Aims: To determine the prevalence of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) in “apparently normal” extremely premature (<29 weeks) or extremely low birthweight (<1000 g) schoolchildren at 8 years of age and whether motor skill assessments at an earlier age could predict DCD.
Method: From a neonatal intensive care unit cohort, 50 of the 53 eligible children (IQ >84 and without disabilities at age 5 and residing in Sydney metropolitan) and full-term classroom controls matched for gender and age were assessed with the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC) at school. Previous Griffith’s Scales (1 and 3 years) and Peabody Motor Scales (3 and 5 years) results were evaluated for prediction.
Results: The prevalence of DCD (MABC impairment scores >1 SD below the norm) was significantly higher in the study group than controls (42% vs 8%, respectively), and severe DCD (scores >1.5 SD) was also significantly higher (30% vs 0%). DCD was independently associated with prolonged rupture of membranes and retinopathy of prematurity but not with parental education or occupation. Motor assessment using Peabody Fine Motor Scales at 3 years with a cut-off of <27th centile was the best predictor of DCD (areas under curve 78%).
Conclusions: Apparently normal high-risk infants are at risk of motor dysfunction into their school years. Most of these could be identified at age 3.
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Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: Obtained.
Patient consent: Obtained.