The influence of septicaemia on spontaneous motility in preterm infants

AF Bos*, RM van Asperen, DM de Leeuw, HFR Prechtl

*Corresponding author for this work

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32 Citations (Scopus)


The qualitative assessment of general movements (GMs) in preterm infants is a sensitive method to investigate the integrity of the central nervous system. The question arises whether systemic infections affect the quality of GMs in a similar fashion to brain lesions. We were able to provide an answer to this problem in six infants (gestational age 24.4-32.4 weeks, birth weight 600-1660 grams), who had initially normal GMs as analyzed from sequential video-recordings. All infants sustained a proven septicaemia (Candida albicans in two, Staphylococcus aureus in three, a coagulase-negative staphylococcus in one infant). Unintentionally, recordings were also made during the acute phase. The complexity and variability of the GMs remained largely intact in five of the six infants; only one infant had transiently abnormal GMs. Compared with 1 week before the acute phase, the speed and amplitude of the GMs were diminished, giving the GMs a sluggish appearance. One to two weeks after the acute phase of septicaemia, the quality of GMs, i.e. speed and amplitude, had normalized in all infants. This study demonstrates that it is possible to discriminate between abnormal GMs due to cerebral lesions and sluggish GMs due to severe systemic infections, when the complexity of the GMs is considered as the main characteristic for judgement of normality of GM-quality. (C) 1997 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalEarly Human Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24-Nov-1997


  • septicaemia
  • spontaneous motility
  • general movements
  • quality

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