Background and aim Early motor and cognitive development are interdependent. Poor motor ability decreases possibility to explore and interact with the surrounding environment. Very preterm infants (VPT) and extremely preterm infants (EPT) frequently display atypical motor performance during their first year but little is known whether this predicts later cognitive ability. Is level of motor development (LMD) and quality of motor performance (QMP) at 10 months corrected age (CA), with regards to gestational age (GA) and gender, associated with cognitive ability at 2 ½ years CA.
Method Very preterm infants (n = 85, 48 boys, 37 girls) born 2004–2007, with a mean of 28.5 (22.3–31.9) gestational weeks (EPT n = 30, VPT n = 55) and birth weight 1188 (520–2030 g). Structured Observation of Motor Performance in Infants (SOMP-I), which measures LMD and QMP separately, was performed at 10 months CA. Cognitive ability was assessed with Bayley Scales of Infant Development III (BSID III) at age 2 ½.
Results Statistically significant associations were shown between LMD (r = 0.344; p = 0.001) and QMP (r=- 256; p = 0.018), respectively, and BSID III cognitive scaled scores. When separated for gender and GA significant associations were shown for boys (r = 0.392; p = 0.006) and EPT children (r = 0.531; p = 0.003) for LMD only.
Conclusion Motor development at 10 months is associated with cognitive development at 2½ years. Level of motor performance had a stronger correlation with cognition than QMP, and when analysed for subgroups, was present only in boys and children born extremely preterm.