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Deficits in motor co-ordination and attention at 3 years of age predict motor deviations in 6.5-year-old children who needed neonatal intensive care


Elvira Hemgren, Department of Women's and Children's Health, Uppsala University Children's Hospital, Uppsala 751 85, Sweden


Background  A total of 189 children without major impairments who needed neonatal intensive care (NIC) were followed up at ages 3 and 6.5 years.

Aim  To determine the prevalence of different motor deviations at age 6.5 years and the co-occurrence of attention deficits; also, to analyse the predictive ability of motor co-ordination and attention assessments at age 3 years for motor deviations at 6.5 years.

Method  A combined assessment of motor performance and behaviour (CAMPB) was used at the 3-year examination. The Test of Motor Impairment (TOMI) and the Motor-Perceptual Development (MPU) were used together with the criteria of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR) to define motor deviations.

Results  At 6.5 years 64% of the children showed a motor deviation either as a delay according to MPU, a problem according to TOMI or Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) according to DSM-IV-TR. Higher proportions of children with attention deficit (50%) were found in the DCD group. The predictive ability of CAMPB was analysed in two ways: when all children with either a co-ordination or attention deficit, or both, at 3 years were considered to be at risk for motor deviations at 6.5 years, the sensitivity reached 78% and the specificity was 42%. But when only the 3 year olds with a combined deficit were considered to be at risk, the sensitivity was 37% and the specificity 89%; however, a positive predictive value of 86% was reached.

Conclusion  At 6.5 years of age a majority of NIC children with no major impairments showed motor deviations. To fulfil the DCD criteria in DSM-IV-TR, a strict definition of motor deviations is recommended. Attention deficits are more prevalent among children with DCD. Deficits in motor co-ordination and/or attention in 3-year-old children are strong predictors of motor deviations and, especially, of DCD at 6.5 years of age.

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