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Aim  The aim of this study was to investigate the predictive value of a computer-based video analysis of the development of cerebral palsy (CP) in young infants.

Method  A prospective study of general movements used recordings from 30 high-risk infants (13 males, 17 females; mean gestational age 31wks, SD 6wks; range 23–42wks) between 10 and 15 weeks post term when fidgety movements should be present. Recordings were analysed using computer vision software. Movement variables, derived from differences between subsequent video frames, were used for quantitative analyses. CP status was reported at 5 years.

Results  Thirteen infants developed CP (eight hemiparetic, four quadriparetic, one dyskinetic; seven ambulatory, three non-ambulatory, and three unknown function), of whom one had fidgety movements. Variability of the centroid of motion had a sensitivity of 85% and a specificity of 71% in identifying CP. By combining this with variables reflecting the amount of motion, specificity increased to 88%. Nine out of 10 children with CP, and for whom information about functional level was available, were correctly predicted with regard to ambulatory and non-ambulatory function.

Interpretation  Prediction of CP can be provided by computer-based video analysis in young infants. The method may serve as an objective and feasible tool for early prediction of CP in high-risk infants.