TORONTO – In what is believed to be a landmark finding, researchers have shown than modifiable risk factors, such as parent-infant relationships, may play a role in preventing children from developing high motor problems during early life.
“Our findings suggest that early health and clinical problems, such as neonatal complications and abnormal neonatal neurological status, are useful indicators to help identify children at risk of poor motor development,” lead study authorsaid in an interview in advance of the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting. “Additionally, as a possible implication, children may benefit in motor development from early interventions that incorporate and focus on improving parent-infant relationships.”
For the current study, she and her associates investigated motor development using data from two different cohorts: the Bavarian Longitudinal Study in Germany (BLS) and the Arvo Ylppö Longitudinal Study in Finland (AYLS). A total of 4,741 and 1,423 children, respectively, underwent assessment from birth to age 56 months. Motor functioning was evaluated via standard physical and neurological assessments at birth and at 5, 20, and 56 months. Perinatal, neonatal, and early environmental information was collected at birth and at 5 months via medical records and reports from parents and research nurses.
The researchers identified two distinct trajectories of motor development problems from birth to 56 months: low (94.3% of BLS and 97.3% of AYLS) and high (5.7% of BLS and 2.7% of AYLS) motor problems.
In the BLS cohort, high motor problem trajectory was predicted by poor parent-infant relationship, such as the mother feeling insecure when taking care of the infant at home (OR 1.52); abnormal neonatal neurological status (odds ratio, 1.16); neonatal complications (OR, 1.12); and duration of initial hospitalization (OR, 1.02).