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Keywords:

  • development;
  • early assessment;
  • motor performance;
  • play;
  • sleep

Abstract

Background  The Alberta Infant Motor Scales (AIMS) is a reliable and valid assessment tool to evaluate the motor performance from birth to independent walking. This study aimed to determine whether the Canadian reference values on the AIMS from 1990–1992 are still useful tor Flemish infants, assessed in 2007–2010. Additionally, the association between motor performance and sleep and play positioning will be determined.

Methods  A total of 270 Flemish infants between 0 and 18 months, recruited by formal day care services, were assessed with the AIMS by four trained physiotherapists. Information about sleep and play positioning was collected by mean of a questionnaire.

Results  Flemish infants perform significantly lower on the AIMS compared with the reference values (P < 0.001). Especially, infants from the age groups of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and of 15 months showed significantly lower scores. From the information collected by parental questionnaires, the lower motor scores seem to be related to the sleep position, the amount of play time in prone, in supine and in a sitting device. Infants who are exposed often to frequently to prone while awake showed a significant higher motor performance than infants who are exposed less to prone (<6 m: P = 0.002; >6 m: P = 0.013). Infants who are placed often to frequently in a sitting device in the first 6 months of life (P = 0.010) and in supine after 6 months (P = 0.001) performed significantly lower than those who are placed less in it.

Conclusion  Flemish infants recruited by formal day care services, show significantly lower motor scores than the Canadian norm population. New reference values should be established for the AIMS for accurate identification of infants at risk. Prevention of sudden infant death syndrome by promoting supine sleep position should go together with promotion of tummy time when awake and avoiding to spent too much time in sitting devices when awake.