Free Content Do Mainstream Schoolchildren who were Born Preterm have Motor Problems?

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Children who are born preterm now have improved survival chances owing to major changes in obstetric and neonatal intensive care. Previous studies have indicated that such children who are attending mainstream school have an increased risk of long-term motor impairment when compared with those who were born at full term. The present study describes the motor outcome in a geographically defined population born at or below 32 weeks of gestational age, alongside a group of full-term children who were matched for age, gender and school. Motor skills were assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (Movement ABC) and the Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI), in addition to a detailed perinatal history.

A total of 280 preterm children were assessed alongside 210 controls. There were highly statistically significant differences between the preterm and full-term cohorts on both the Movement ABC (p<0.001, Mann-Whitney U) and the VMI (p<0.001, independent sample t-test), with the preterm group performing considerably worse than their peers. Using the 5th percentile on the Movement ABC, 30.7% of the preterm group were impaired compared with 6.7% of the controls.

Occupational therapists may find increased referral levels of preterm children because of motor difficulties and associated functional problems.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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