Aims: To determine the prevalence of Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) in ‘apparently normal’ extremely premature (<29 weeks) or ELBW (<1000g) school children at 8 years of age and whether motor skill assessments at an earlier age could predict DCD.
Method: From a NICU cohort, 50 of the 53 eligible children (IQ>84 and without disabilities at age 5 and resided 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 more than 1SD below norm) was significantly higher in the study group compared to controls (42% v 8% respectively) and severe DCD (scores >1.5 SD) was also significantly higher (30% and 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 less than the 27th percentile was the best predictor of DCD (Areas under curve 78%).
Conclusion: 'Apparently normal' high-risk infants are at risk of motor dysfunction into school years. The majority of these could be identified at age 3.