Children born very preterm (<32 weeks’ gestation) have more neurodevelopmental problems compared with term-born peers. Aberrant fidgety movements (FMs) are associated with adverse motor outcomes in children born very preterm. However, associations of aberrant FMs combined with additional movements and postures to give a motor optimality score-revised (MOS-R) with school-aged cognitive and motor outcomes are unclear. Our aim with this study was to determine those associations.
Of 118 infants born <30 weeks’ gestation recruited into a randomized controlled trial of early intervention, 97 had a general movements assessment at 3 months’ corrected age and were eligible for this study. Early motor repertoire including FMs and MOS-R were scored from videos of infant’s spontaneous movement at 3 months’ corrected age. At 8 years’ corrected age, cognitive and motor performances were evaluated. Associations of early FMs and MOS-R with outcomes at 8 years were determined using linear regression.
Seventy-eight (80%) infants with early motor repertoire data had neurodevelopmental assessments at 8 years. A higher MOS-R, and favorable components of the individual subscales of the MOS-R, including the presence of normal FMs, were associated with better performance for general cognition, attention, working memory, executive function and motor function at 8 years; eg, presence of normal FMs was associated with a 21.6 points higher general conceptual ability score (95% confidence interval: 12.8–30.5; P < .001) compared with absent FMs.
Favorable early motor repertoire of infants born <30 weeks is strongly associated with improved cognitive and motor performance at 8 years.