Early motor development, early visual attention and functional outcome in children: insights into functional brain development

Marrit Hitzert


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    In this thesis, we investigated development of motor behavior and visual attention in the first six months of life, in relation to risk factors for an adverse development and in relation to functional outcome of the children later in life. We investigated variability in motor behavior by assessing the quality of general movements (GMs) and by calculating a detailed motor optimality score (MOS). We investigated visual attention by the ability to switch attention between two locations.
    Preterm infants at risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia who were treated postnatally with high-dose dexamethasone experienced negative neurological effects as reflected in lower MOSs at three months postterm age and poorer school age performance at multiple domains than untreated infants. Treatment with low-dose dexamethasone, on the contrary, seemed promising since these infants had higher MOSs at three months and neurological outcome around 2 years of age was normal in the majority of infants. In a group of fullterm infants, those who had higher cord blood concentrations of several polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) more often had a reduced movement repertoire, indicating that even prenatal background exposure to toxic substances influences early motor development.
    In fullterm infants, detailed patterns of early motor development predicted specific cognitive and behavioral domains at school age. Infants who had a slower development of visual attention abilities at a young age had poorer attentional and motor skills later on. Our results suggest that particular markers in the first six months might help to identify those infants that might benefit from strategies aimed at improving their outcomes.
    Originele taal-2English
    KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
    Toekennende instantie
    • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
    • Bos, Arie, Supervisor
    • van Braeckel, Koenraad, Co-supervisor
    Datum van toekenning26-nov-2014
    Plaats van publicatie[S.l.]
    Gedrukte ISBN's978-90-367-7396-6
    Elektronische ISBN's978-90-367-7395-9
    StatusPublished - 2014

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