Low birthweight and neuromotor development: a population based, controlled study

Acta Paediatr. 1996 May;85(5):604-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1996.tb14096.x.


The aims of the study were to investigate: (a) the relationship between low birthweight (LBW) and pre-school neuromotor development; and (b) the predictive value of various pre-, peri-, and neonatal factors for neuromotor development in LBW pre-school children. A population based sample of 144 5-year-old LBW children (birthweight < 2000 g) with no major handicaps was compared with a random sample of 163 normal birthweight term controls. Using the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, impaired performance on the balance scale was seen more often in LBW boys than in controls (odds ratio 5.5, 95% CI 1.5-20.3), while performance on the eye-hand coordination and locomotor scales was comparable for the two groups. LBW girls were comparable to controls on all these scales. On neurological examination, an increased frequency of minor neurological signs was found in LBW boys, while increased ankle tone and/or leg hyperreflexia was more common in LBW girls compared to controls. Small head circumference at birth was associated with an increased frequency of minor neurological signs in LBW boys, and lack of breastmilk in the neonatal period with impaired balance in LBW boys. None of the other pre-, peri- or neonatal factors were predictive of neuromotor development. We conclude that motor functions essential for daily activities are intact in most LBW preschoolers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight / physiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors