NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale profiles predict developmental outcomes in a low-risk sample

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2012 Jul;26(4):344-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2012.01288.x. Epub 2012 May 17.


Background: Latent profile analysis (LPA) has been used previously to classify neurobehavioral responses of infants prenatally exposed to cocaine and other drugs of abuse. The objective of this study was to define NICU Network Neurobehavioral Scale (NNNS) profile response patterns in a cohort of infants with no known cocaine exposure or other risks for neurobehavior deficits, and determine whether these profiles predict neurobehavioral outcomes in these low-risk infants.

Methods: NNNS exams were performed on 355 low-risk infants at approximately 5 weeks after birth. LPA was used to define discrete profiles based on the standard NNNS summary scales. Associations between the infant profiles and neurobehavioral outcomes at one to three years of age were examined.

Results: Twelve of the 13 summary scales were used and three discrete NNNS profiles identified: social/easy going infants (44%), hypotonic infants (24%), and high arousal/difficult infants (32%). Statistically significant associations between NNNS profiles and later neurobehavioral outcomes were found for psychomotor development and externalizing behaviors. Hypotonic infants had both lower psychomotor development and lower externalizing scores compared to the other two profiles.

Conclusions: Three distinct profiles of the NNNS summary scores were identifiable using LPA among infants with no known cocaine exposure. These profile patterns were associated with early childhood neurobehavioral outcome, similar to findings reported in a study of infants with substantial cocaine exposure, demonstrating the utility of this profiling technique in both exposed and unexposed populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child Development / drug effects*
  • Child Development / physiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cocaine-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Developmental Disabilities / chemically induced*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Maternal Age
  • Neurologic Examination / methods*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult