Predictive validity of Prechtl's Method on the Qualitative Assessment of General Movements: a systematic review of the evidence

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2011 Oct;53(10):896-906. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.04017.x. Epub 2011 Jun 17.


Aim: The aim of this systematic review was to examine the evidence for the predictive validity of Prechtl's Method on the Qualitative Assessment of General Movements (GMsA) with respect to neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Method: Six electronic databases (PsychINFO, Embase, Health and Psychosocial Instruments, PubMed, and AMED) were searched using the following keywords to identify all studies that examined the predictive validity of the GMsA: 'general movements', 'assessment', 'movement', 'child development', 'infant', and 'predictive value of test'. Only English- and French-language studies were included, whereas studies that focused on spontaneous mobility in preterm infants, but not necessarily the GMsA, or which did not report on the predictive value of the GMsA were excluded. A total of 39 studies were included in the final analysis.

Results: Studies were separated according to the age at follow-up: 12 to 23 months, 2 to 3, 4 to 11, and 12 to 18 years. All used a longitudinal cohort study design; however, the outcome measures differed greatly amongst the studies. Values for sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value varied amongst studies. The overall trend indicated that the presence of abnormalities in the quality of fidgety movements at 12 weeks adjusted age is more predictive of adverse outcomes than abnormal writhing movements.

Interpretation: The GMsA demonstrates potential as a cost-effective, non-intrusive means of infant examination. However, current studies include important sources of bias. Future methodologically rigorous studies with functional outcomes are suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electronic Health Records / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Neurologic Examination / methods*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity