OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the effect of physical training combined with growth hormone (GH) on muscle thickness and its relationship with muscle strength and motor development in infants with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS).

METHODS:

In a randomized controlled trial, 22 infants with PWS (12.9 ± 7.1 months) were followed over 2 years to compare a treatment group (n = 10) with a waiting-list control group (n = 12). Muscle thickness of 4 muscle groups was measured by using ultrasound. Muscle strength was evaluated by using the Infant Muscle Strength meter. Motor performance was measured with the Gross Motor Function Measurement. Analyses of variance were used to evaluate between-group effects of GH on muscle thickness at 6 months and to compare pre- and posttreatment (after 12 months of GH) values. Multilevel analyses were used to evaluate effects of GH on muscle thickness over time, and multilevel bivariate analyses were used to test relationships between muscle thickness, muscle strength, and motor performance.

RESULTS:

A significant positive effect of GH on muscle thickness (P < .05) was found. Positive relationships were found between muscle thickness and muscle strength (r = 0.61, P < .001), muscle thickness and motor performance (r = 0.81, P < .001), and muscle strength and motor performance (r = 0.76, P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS:

GH increased muscle thickness, which was related to muscle strength and motor development in infants with PWS. Catch-up growth was faster in muscles that are most frequently used in early development. Because this effect was independent of GH, it suggests a training effect.

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