Movements and postures of infants aged 3 to 5 months: to what extent is their optimality related to perinatal events and to the neurological outcome?

Early Hum Dev. 2011 Mar;87(3):231-7. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2010.12.046. Epub 2011 Feb 4.


Background: The quality of spontaneous general movements (GMs), assessed in the individual infant, has emerged as one of the most reliable and valid predictors especially of severe neurological impairments.

Aims: To implement a more detailed assessment of GMs and co-existing movements and postural patterns in a rehabilitation clinic, and to examine to what extend is the optimality of movements and postures of infants aged 3 to 5 months related to perinatal events and the neurological outcome.

Study design: Prospective study of 41 infants (15 boys and 26 girls; 11 infants born preterm) admitted to the Department of Paediatric Neurology and Rehabilitation of the St. Joseph's Hospital in Kyoto (Japan).

Outcome measures: Clinical, neurological and psychological status at age 5.

Results: Motor optimality at age 3 to 5 months correlated positively with neonatal optimality (r=0.48, p<0.01), especially regarding factors associated with hypoxic events. A non-optimal motor performance (lowest possible scores) predicted cerebral palsy with 100% accuracy. Other adverse outcomes such as developmental delays, developmental coordination disorders, pervasive developmental disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder turned out not to be associated with early motor performance. In 13% of cases absence of fidgety movements proved to be false positives, but their normal appearance along with a smooth concurrent motor performance was solely found in infants with a normal neurological development.

Conclusion: Assessing the quality of motor performance at age 3 to 5 months considerably improves our ability to identify infants at risk for maldevelopment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Developmental Disabilities / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Statistics, Nonparametric