Aim: To describe the neurobehavioral and developmental profile of very low birthweight (VLBW) preterm infants in early infancy.
Methods: Twenty VLBW infants and 10 term control infants were assessed at term, 3 and 6 mo of age. Neurobehavioral assessments included the Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS) at term; the Infant Behavioral Assessment at term, 3 and 6 mo of age and the Behavioral Rating Scale of the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-II (BSID-II) at 3 and 6 mo of age. Development was evaluated with the Bayley Motor and Mental Scale at 3 and 6 mo.
Results: At term age VLBW infants differed from term infants on all the clusters and supplementary items of the NBAS. VLBW infants also showed more stress and less approach behavior at term and 6 mo of age and more problems with self-regulation in all subsystems at 6 mo of age. Moreover, VLBW infants performed lower on the Bayley Motor, Mental and Behavioral Rating Scale: 12 VLBW infants scored questionable or non-optimal on the Psychomotor Development Index and 18 questionable or non-optimal on the Behavioral Rating Scale. These results support the need for neurobehavioral intervention of VLBW infants in the first 6 mo of life.
Conclusion: Almost all VLBW infants showed non-optimal motor quality behavior at 6 mo and encountered far more problems with self-regulation compared with term infants.