"Many issues are easy to fix at 18 months, but very hard at 5 years," said Harper.
For example, kids who walk on their toes often walk with their stomachs forward, and part of treatment has to include moving that center of gravity back. And, the longer that posture has been practiced, the longer it will likely take to correct.
Harper noted that while the Swedish study didn't address this cause, in the United States, spending too much time in a baby walker is a common source of toe-walking. She said that pediatricians and physical therapists advise parents not to use these devices because they're generally unsafe, and toe-walking can be an unintended consequence.
All three experts advised parents to bring up toe-walking with their child's pediatrician, who can determine if further treatment is necessary. And, Richel pointed out that while children with developmental delays and neuropsychiatric disorders may have higher rates of toe-walking, toe-walking on its own doesn't necessarily mean your child has one of these conditions.
Because while the study uncovered an association between toe-walking and developmental delays or neuropsychiatric disorders, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
Learn more about toe-walking in children from the Seattle Children's Hospital.
SOURCES: Colleen E. Harper, P.T., director, developmental, rehabilitative and child life services, La Rabida Children's Hospital, Chicago; Chantell D'Avignon, O.T.R., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Pete Richel, M.D., chief, pediatrics, Northern Westchester Hospital, Mt. Kisco, N.Y.; August 2012, Pediatrics
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