The crucial role of the predictability of motor response in visuomotor deficits in very preterm children at school age
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Aim: We aimed to clarify the underpinnings of widespread visuomotor deficits in very preterm children. Method: Fifty-eight very preterm children (26 males, 32 females; mean [SD] age 7y 6mo [5mo], gestational age 29.2wks [1.6]; birthweight 1237g ), recruited from a tertiary level neonatal intensive care unit, and 64 age-matched, comparison children born at term (28 males, 36 females; mean age [SD] 7y 8mo [7mo]) participated. IQ was measured using a short form of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (3rd edition). A research diagnosis of developmental coordination disorder (DCD) was defined as a score below the 15th centile on the Movement Assessment Battery for Children. Visuomotor performance was assessed using a computerized task, in which children followed a predictable (structured condition) or an unpredictable (non-structured condition) trail on a touch screen using their index finger. Results: Forty-six per cent of the very preterm children had a research diagnosis of DCD, compared with 16% of children born at term (p<0.001, odds ratio 4.69 [95% CI 2.01–10.99]). No group difference in visuomotor performance was present for the structured condition. In the non-structured condition, children born very preterm with and without a research diagnosis of DCD had poorer visuomotor performance than those born at term. Interpretation: The predictability of the required motor response plays a crucial role in visuomotor deficits in very preterm children, regardless of DCD status.
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