Qualitative assessment of general movements in high-risk preterm infants with chronic lung disease requiring dexamethasone therapy

AF Bos*, A Martijn, RM van Asperen, M Hadders-Algra, A Okken, HFR Prechtl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Objective: The objective of this study was to determine in preterm infants al risk for severe chronic lung disease (1) the quality of general movements (GMs) and (2) the effect of dexamethasone treatment on spontaneous motor activity.

Study design: In 15 very low birth weight infants the quality of GMs was assessed Gum repeated videotape recordings. Recordings were made at weekly intervals during the preterm period until term age and thereafter three times until the twentieth postterm week. All infants required devamethasone therapy and additional recordings were made a few hours before and 24 hours, 48 hours, and 7 days after dexamethasone was started. The relationship among movement quality, brain ultrasonographic abnormalities, and long-term outcome was explored. Acute effects of dexamethasone on motor activity were examined.

Results: After dexamethasone therapy nas started, a significant transient reduction of the quantity of most spontaneous movements (p <0,05) and a reduction of speed and amplitude of GMs was found (p <0.05). A significant relationship was found between the severity of brain ultrasonographic abnormalities and the extent to which developmental trajectories of GMs were abnormal (p <0.001). The development of cerebral palsy was related to the presence of cramped-synchronized movements near term (p <0.02) and to the absence of fidgety movements at the age of 3 months after term (p <0.05),

Conclusion: In preterm infants with severe chronic lung disease and brain lesions, dexamethasone treatment leads to an acute reduction in motility and changes in the speed and amplitude of GMs. Until more is known, about long-term neurologic sequelae, a cautious use of systemic dexamethasone therapy in preterm infants is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb-1998



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