Predicting motor development in very preterm infants at 12 months' corrected age: the role of qualitative magnetic resonance imaging and general movements assessments

Pediatrics. 2009 Feb;123(2):512-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-0590.


Objective: The objective of this study was to compare the predictive value of qualitative MRI of brain structure at term and general movements assessments at 1 and 3 months' corrected age for motor outcome at 1 year's corrected age in very preterm infants.

Patients and methods: Eighty-six very preterm infants (<30 weeks' gestation) underwent MRI at term-equivalent age, were evaluated for white matter abnormality, and had general movements assessed at 1 and 3 months' corrected age. Motor outcome at 1 year's corrected age was evaluated with the Alberta Infant Motor Scale, the Neuro-Sensory Motor Development Assessment, and the diagnosis of cerebral palsy by the child's pediatrician.

Results: At 1 year of age, the Alberta Infant Motor Scale categorized 30 (35%) infants as suspicious/abnormal; the Neuro-Sensory Motor Development Assessment categorized 16 (18%) infants with mild-to-severe motor dysfunction, and 5 (6%) infants were classified with cerebral palsy. White matter abnormality at term and general movements at 1 and 3 months significantly correlated with Alberta Infant Motor Scale and Neuro-Sensory Motor Development Assessment scores at 1 year. White matter abnormality and general movements at 3 months were the only assessments that correlated with cerebral palsy. All assessments had 100% sensitivity in predicting cerebral palsy. White matter abnormality demonstrated the greatest accuracy in predicting combined motor outcomes, with excellent levels of specificity (>90%); however, the sensitivity was low. On the other hand, general movements assessments at 1 month had the highest sensitivity (>80%); however, the overall accuracy was relatively low.

Conclusion: Neuroimaging (MRI) and functional (general movements) examinations have important complementary roles in predicting motor development of very preterm infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / growth & development*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Motor Skills*
  • Movement*
  • Predictive Value of Tests