There was a marked correlation (P < .000001) between neonatal neurodevelopmental examination results and neuromotor outcome at 1 year of age or older in 210 high-risk premature infants (mean birth weight 1,107 g, mean gestational age 28.4 weeks). This neonatal examination consisted of assessment of posture, extremity and axial tone, deep tendon reflexes, pathologic reflexes, primitive reflexes, symmetry, oromotor function, cranial nerve function, auditory and visual responses, and behavior. Premature infants whose neonatal neurodevelopmental examination results were abnormal had significantly higher incidences of both cerebral palsy (38% v 6%, P < .000001) and minor neuromotor dysfunction (27% v 13%, p < .05) than did premature infants whose examination results were normal. This correlation continued to be highly significant even with the analysis of subgroups (infants born at or before 27 weeks' gestation, infants with chronic lung disease discharged with oxygen supplementation, infants with periventricular hemorrhage) and when a variety of individual perinatal, demographic, and social variables were used as controls. Normal or nearly normal neonatal neurodevelopmental examination results can be used to reassure parents of high-risk premature infants. Although abnormal neonatal neurodevelopmental examination results cannot be used to diagnose handicap in premature infants, they can be used to select a group of high-risk infants who should be carefully monitored during infancy and childhood.
- Received August 11, 1987.
- Accepted May 12, 1988.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics