The Dubowitz neurological examination of the full-term newborn

Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2005;11(1):52-60. doi: 10.1002/mrdd.20048.


In an ideal world, each neonate should have a comprehensive neurological examination but in practice this is often difficult. In this review we will describe what a routine neurological evaluation in the full-term neonate should consist of and how the Dubowitz examination is performed. The examination has been used for over 20 years and can be easily performed in a short time as the recording sheet provides simple instructions together with simple diagrams to make the recording and the scoring easier. We will also indicate how the examination can be used to identify infants with neurological abnormalities, describing clinical signs which can help to differentiate infants with peripheral neuromuscular disorders from those with central nervous system involvement. The correlation between clinical and imaging findings in infants with neonatal brain lesions will also be reported. Finally we will briefly describe how and when to apply an optimality scoring system in a research setting.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Muscle Tonus
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Posture
  • Reflex / physiology