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Early Hum Dev. 2006 Apr;82(4):249-55. Epub 2005 Dec 5.

The association between early minor motor difficulties in extreme low birth weight infants and school age attentional difficulties.

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Mater Children's Hospital, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane, QLD, Australia.



Extremely premature infants of normal intellectual ability have an increased prevalence of motor and attentional difficulties. Knowledge of the relationship between early motor difficulties and measures of attention at school age would enhance understanding of these developmental pathways, their interrelationship and opportunities for intervention.


This study examines whether an association exists between early findings of minor motor difficulties and school age clinical and psychometric measures of attention.


45/60 eligible ELBW(1000 g) or preterm (< 27/40 gestation) infants born at the Mater Mother's Hospital were assessed at 12 and 24 months for minor motor deficits (using NSMDA) and at 7-9 years for attention, using clinical (Conners and Du Paul Rating Scales) and psychometric (assessing attention span, selective and divided attention) measures.


NSMDA at 12 months was only associated with the psychometric measures of verbal attention span. It was not associated with later clinical measures of attention. NSMDA at 24 months was strongly associated with specific clinical measures of attention at school age, independent of biological and social factors. It was not associated with psychometric measures of attention.


The major finding of this study is that motor difficulties in ELBW infants at 2 years are associated with later clinical measures of attention. Possible mechanisms underlying this relationship are considered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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