Fetal and infant spontaneous general movements as predictors of developmental disabilities

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The challenge of identifying infants who are at risk for developmental delay and possible adverse neurodevelopmental outcome demands methods of evaluation that will lead to early intervention to minimize developmental disability and to maximize the infant's potential. A qualitative assessment of spontaneous general movements (GMs) in the preterm, term, and young infant at risk is a valid and reliable tool for evaluation (Prechtl [1990] Early Hum. Dev. 23:151-158). The aim of this review is to describe the theoretical and clinical bases for the assessment of GMs and its relationship to developmental delay and brain dysfunction. Thirty-seven studies related to the predictive validity of GMs were included in this review. Results suggested that consistent cramped synchronized GMs are highly predictive of later development of cerebral palsy. The fidgety movement quality that appears at the age of 2 to 3 months was found to be a most sensitive predictor of neurodevelopmental outcome in different populations of infants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Disabilities Research Reviews
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • General movements
  • Infants
  • Neurodevelopmental outcome
  • Predictive ability


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