Objective The assessment of general movements (GMs) is a widely used technique to evaluate neurological (dys)function and to predict neurodevelopmental outcome in infants. De Vries and Bos (Early Hum Dev 2008, 2010) demonstrated that abnormal GMs are often seen in early recordings in extremely low birth weight (BW) and preterm (< 32 weeks) infants. Aim of our study was to assess whether this finding could be replicated for moderate and late preterm infants (32/0–36/6 weeks’ gestation).
Methods We assessed GMs during the first 2 weeks (Median = 7 days; 5–8 days) of 50 moderate and late preterm infants (31 males). GM quality (global and detailed scoring) was analysed off line and related to neonatal morbidity (mainly IRDS) and other clinical factors (birth weight, need for oxygen and intensive care).
Results Mean gestational age (GA) of the infants was 35 weeks’ gestation (SD = 9 days); mean BW was 2207 grams (SD = 400). Abnormal GMs were observed in 23 infants: 19 poor repertoire, 2 infants cramped synchronised, and 2 chaotic. Yet another 10 infants were scored as normal but their detailed GM score revealed a reduced motor optimality. GM abnormalities were not related to perinatal factors, such as GA, birth weight or neonatal morbidity.
Conclusion Almost every second infant had abnormal GMs during the first 2 weeks of life. Whether such an early and single GM assessment will be related to the neurodevelopmental outcome has still to remain open, as the individuals of our study group did not yet reach the age of an outcome assessment.