Context: Infants who are very preterm (born < or = 32 weeks of gestation) and very low birth weight (VLBW) (weighing < or = 1500 g) are at risk for poor developmental outcomes. There is increasing evidence that very preterm birth and VLBW have a considerable effect on motor development, although findings are inconsistent.
Objective: To investigate the relationship between very preterm birth and VLBW and motor development.
Data sources: The computerized databases EMBASE, PubMed, and Web of Knowledge were used to search for English-language peer-reviewed articles published between January 1992 and August 2009.
Study selection: Studies were included if they reported motor scores of very preterm and VLBW children without congenital anomalies using 1 of 3 established and widely used motor tests: the Bayley Scales of Infant Development II (BSID-II), the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC), and the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (BOTMP). Forty-one articles were identified, encompassing 9653 children.
Results: In comparison with term-born peers, very preterm and VLBW children obtained significantly lower scores on all 3 motor tests: BSID-II: d = -0.88 (95% confidence interval [CI], -0.96 to -0.80; P < .001), MABC: d = -0.65 (95% CI, -0.70 to -0.60; P < .001), and BOTMP: d = -0.57 (95% CI, -0.68 to -0.46; P < .001). Whereas motor outcomes on the BSID-II show a catch-up effect in the first years of development (r = 0.50, P = .01), the results on the MABC demonstrate a nonsignificantly greater deficit with increasing age during elementary school and early adolescence (r = -0.59, P = .07).
Conclusion: Being born preterm or VLBW is associated with significant motor impairment persisting throughout childhood.