Spontaneous kicking in full-term and preterm infants with and without white matter disorder

Dev Psychobiol. 2010 Sep;52(6):524-36. doi: 10.1002/dev.20455.


Early damage to white matter of the brain may have developmental consequences for prematurely born infants including the coordination of leg movements. Our perspective is that white matter damage initiates an ontogenetic course that may lead to movement dysfunction leading to disability. In this study, spontaneous kicking in the human infant is a "window" for evaluating the potential consequences of perinatal brain damage for sensori-motor coordination. We compare the intra-limb coordination patterns of 5-month-old premature infants with white matter damage (PTWMD) to a group of prematurely born infants without WMD (PT) and a group of full-term (FT) infants. The PT group demonstrates advanced kicking patterns in comparison to both the PTWMD and FT groups. The PTWMD group has less mature patterns than the FT group on some, but not all measures. The movement challenge for PTWMD infants may be in the transition from spontaneous kicking to movements with the legs that require decoupling of intralimb joints.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Leukomalacia, Periventricular / pathology
  • Leukomalacia, Periventricular / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / physiology*
  • Patient Selection
  • Prospective Studies