Background: The assessment of the early motor repertoire is a widely used method for assessing the infant's neurological status.
Aim: To determine the association between the early motor repertoire and language development.
Study design: Prospective cohort study.
Subjects: 22 term children born after normal pregnancy; video recorded for the assessment of the early motor repertoire including their motor optimality score (MOS), according to Prechtl, at 3 and 5 months post term.
Outcome measures: At 4 years 7 months and 10 years 5 months, we tested the children's language performance by administering three tests for expressive language and two for receptive language.
Results: Smooth and fluent movements at 3 months of age was associated with better expressive language outcome at both 4 years 7 months and 10 years 5 months (betas 0.363 and 0.628). A higher MOS at 5 months was associated with better expressive language at both ages (betas 0.486 and 0.628). The item postural patterns at 5 months was the only aspect associated with poorer expressive language outcome (beta - 0.677).
Conclusion: Predominantly, qualitative aspects of the early motor repertoire at the age of 3 and 5 months are associated with language development.