Neurologic examination of preterm infants at term age: comparison with term infants

J Pediatr. 2003 Jun;142(6):647-55. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2003.215.


Objectives: The aim was to establish the range of neurologic findings in preterm infants reaching term age, their relation to gestational age at birth, and the possible differences with healthy term newborns tested during the first days of life.

Study design: The Dubowitz neonatal neurologic examination was performed at term age in 157 low-risk preterm infants born between 25 and 34 weeks' gestation who had cranial ultrasonograms that were normal or showed minor abnormalities. Infants were subdivided in 3 groups according to their gestational age at birth.

Results: Within the preterm cohort, the range of scores for the 3 gestational age subgroups was different from each other for 21 of the 34 items, although the median scores were different only in 10 of the 34 items. The range of scores and their median in preterm infants however was wider than that found in term infants. Preterm infants examined at term were also more hyperexcitable and tended to have less flexor tone in the limbs and less extensor tone in the neck in the sitting posture.

Conclusions: The distribution of scores provides useful guidelines when a preterm infant is examined at term.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn / physiology*
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurologic Examination*