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J Pediatr. 2004 Aug;145(2 Suppl):S12-8.

General movements: A window for early identification of children at high risk for developmental disorders.

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Department of Neurology-Developmental Neurology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Detection of children with a developmental disorder, such as cerebral palsy, at an early age is notoriously difficult. Recently, a new form of neuromotor assessment of young infants was developed, based on the assessment of the quality of general movements (GMs). GMs are movements of the fetus and young infant in which all parts of the body participate. The technique of GM assessment is presented and the features of normal, mildly abnormal, and definitely abnormal GMs discussed. Essential to GM assessment is the Gestalt evaluation of movement complexity and variation. The quality of GMs at 2 to 4 months postterm (so-called fidgety GM age) has been found to have the highest predictive value. The presence of definitely abnormal GMs at this age--that is, GMs devoid of complexity and variation--puts a child at very high risk for cerebral palsy. This implies that definitely abnormal GMs at fidgety age are an indication for early physiotherapeutic intervention.

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