The Early Motor Repertoire in Preterm Infancy and Cognition in Young Adulthood: Preliminary Findings

Sahar Salavati*, Anne E den Heijer, Maraike A Coenen, Janneke L M Bruggink, Christa Einspieler, Arend F Bos, Jacoba M Spikman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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OBJECTIVE: Preterm birth poses a risk to cognition during childhood. The resulting cognitive problems may persist into young adulthood. The early motor repertoire in infancy is predictive of neurocognitive development in childhood. Our present aim was to investigate whether it also predicts neurocognitive status in young adulthood.

METHOD: We conducted an explorative observational follow-up study in 37 young adults born at a gestational age of less than 35 weeks and/or with a birth weight below 1200 g. Between 1992 and 1997, these individuals were videotaped up until 3 months' corrected age to assess the quality of their early motor repertoire according to Prechtl. The assessment includes general movements, fidgety movements (FMs), and a motor optimality score (MOS). In young adulthood, the following cognitive domains were assessed: memory, speed of information processing, language, attention, and executive function.

RESULTS: Participants in whom FMs were absent in infancy obtained lower scores on memory, speed of information processing, and attention than those with normal FMs. Participants with aberrant FMs, that is, absent or abnormal, obtained poorer scores on memory, speed of information processing speed, attention, and executive function compared to peers who had normal FMs. A higher MOS was associated with better executive function.

CONCLUSIONS: The quality of the early motor repertoire is associated with performance in various cognitive domains in young adulthood. This knowledge may be applied to enable the timely recognition of preterm-born individuals at risk of cognitive dysfunctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80–91
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number1
Early online date3-Jan-2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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