Qualitative changes in general movements and their prognostic value in preterm infants
Abstract Qualitative asessments of general movements have been shown to have considerable power in predicting neurological outcomes in preterm infants with brain damage. In the present study such assessments were made in 35 preterm infants without major neurological problems before term age, born between 27 and 34 weeks gestation, of whom 12 were small-for-gestational-age (SGA). Most infants maintained a normal or (mildly) abnormal quality from 35 weeks postmenstrual age through 6, 12, 18 to 24 weeks corrected age. Seven changed from initially abnormal movements to a normal quality, six of them after 12 weeks. Differences between SGA and appropriate-for-gestational-age infants became less evident with age, particularly after 12 weeks. This was not the case when comparisons were made on the basis of gestational ages below or above 32 weeks. The prediction of neurological and mental outcomes at 1 year also improved after 12 weeks, around which age a major transformation in neural functions occurs. It is concluded that assessments of movement quality are particularly successful in predicting abnormal outcomes in comparison to examinations based on muscle tone and elicited responses.
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