Early neurologic assessment in preterm-infants: integration of traditional neurologic examination and observation of general movements

Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2008 May;12(3):183-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2007.07.008. Epub 2007 Sep 18.


Objective: To evaluate the possible additional benefit in terms of prognostic accuracy of an integrated application of a traditional scorable method of neurologic examination and the Prechtl's method of qualitative assessment of general movements (GMs) in a large population of 903 consecutive preterm infants.

Study design: Infants were enrolled from the Intensive Care Unit of the University of Catania. Inclusion criteria were a gestational age below 37 weeks and the absence of genetic disorders. All infants underwent serial ultrasound and at 3 months performed both the GMs assessment and the Hammersmith Infant Neurologic Examination (HINE). Outcome was assessed at 2 years by the Touwen neurologic examination and the Clinical Adaptive Test/Clinical, Linguistic and Auditory Milestone Scale.

Results: The integration of the two methods was shown to be more effective than the single assessments in predicting neurologic outcome. The additional benefit of combining the two approaches was particularly clear for the discrimination between unilateral and bilateral cerebral palsy.

Conclusions: The integrated use of a scorable neurological examination and Prechtl's assessment of GMs can improve early prediction of neurodevelopmental outcome in preterm infants and should complement other clinical and instrumental exams in follow-up programs.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Neurologic Examination / methods*
  • Observation* / methods
  • Psychomotor Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Videotape Recording