Fetal programming of infant neuromotor development: the generation R study

Pediatr Res. 2010 Feb;67(2):132-7. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3181c2dc76.


The objective of the study was to examine whether infant neuromotor development is determined by fetal size and body symmetry in the general population. This study was embedded within the Generation R Study, a population-based cohort in Rotterdam. In 2965 fetuses, growth parameters were measured in mid-pregnancy and late pregnancy. After birth, at age 9 to 15 wks, neuromotor development was assessed with an adapted version of Touwen's Neurodevelopmental Examination. Less optimal neuromotor development was defined as a score in the highest tertile. We found that higher fetal weight was beneficial to infant neurodevelopment. A fetus with a 1-SD score higher weight in mid-pregnancy had an 11% lower risk of less optimal neuromotor development (OR: 0.89; 95% CI: 0.82-0.97). Similarly, a fetus with a 1-SD score larger abdominal-to-head circumference (AC/HC) ratio had a 13% lower risk of less optimal neuromotor development (OR: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.79-0.96). These associations were also present in late pregnancy. Our findings show that fetal size and body symmetry in pregnancy are associated with infant neuromotor development. These results suggest that differences in infant neuromotor development, a marker of behavioral and cognitive problems, are at least partly caused by processes occurring early in fetal life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / diagnostic imaging
  • Abdomen / embryology*
  • Adult
  • Aging
  • Anthropometry
  • Birth Weight*
  • Child Development*
  • Female
  • Fetal Development
  • Fetal Weight*
  • Gestational Age
  • Head / diagnostic imaging
  • Head / embryology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Motor Skills Disorders / diagnosis
  • Motor Skills Disorders / etiology*
  • Motor Skills Disorders / physiopathology
  • Nervous System / diagnostic imaging
  • Nervous System / embryology*
  • Nervous System / growth & development
  • Netherlands
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • Young Adult