The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Size at birth and motor activity during stress in children aged 7-9 years

Schlotz, Wolff, Jones, Alexander, Phillips, Naomi M.M., Godfrey, Keith M. and Phillips, David I.W. (2007) Size at birth and motor activity during stress in children aged 7-9 years Pediatrics, 120, (5), e1237-e1244.

Record type: Article


Objective: Small size at birth is linked with metabolic and cardiovascular disease. There is increasing evidence that it is also linked with physiological stress responses and abnormal behaviour, in particular symptoms of hyperactivity. We therefore investigated associations between size at birth and motor activity during psychosocial stress.
Methods: In 123 children aged 7-9 years, we examined the relations of birth weight, head circumference, length and ponderal index at birth with motor activity upon exposure to both stress and non-stress situations. Videos were recorded while the children performed a story and a maths task in front of an audience (stress) and watched a movie (non-stress); motor activity was defined as lifting or tilting of a foot.
Results: Children who had had a smaller head circumference at birth demonstrated greater motor activity during the stress test. There were marked gender differences in the results. In boys, lower birth weight, head circumference and ponderal index were associated with greater motor activity during the stress test, but not associated with motor activity during the non-stress situation. The findings remained significant when potential confounding variables were controlled for. There were no associations in girls.
Conclusions: The findings suggest long-term effects of an adverse fetal environment on the behavioural stress response in boys, and parallel similar sex-specific effects on different stress response systems in humans and animals. The results could reflect permanent alterations of dopaminergic neurotransmission and have implications for the etiology of clinical hyperactivity.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: November 2007
Keywords: birth weight, birth head circumference, stress, hyperactivity, child behavior


Local EPrints ID: 47566
ISSN: 0031-4005
PURE UUID: 32c98ae2-0b4e-4e72-b12c-173248b7b52b
ORCID for Keith M. Godfrey: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 02 Aug 2007
Last modified: 28 Aug 2017 21:30

Export record


Author: Wolff Schlotz
Author: Alexander Jones
Author: Naomi M.M. Phillips
Author: David I.W. Phillips

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.