Motor impairment and low achievement in very preterm children at eight years of age

Crista Wocadlo*, Ingrid Rieger

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    Aim: To examine the concurrence of motor impairment and academic underachievement in a group of very preterm children at 8 years of age. Methods: All surviving children with a gestational age less than 30 weeks, admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit between 1987 and 1997, were prospectively enrolled in developmental follow-up. Children with a neurosensory disability or a low intelligence score (FSIQ ≤ 75 points) were excluded. At 8 years of age the Bruininks Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency and standardised tests of academic achievement were administered to a sample of 323 very preterm children. Results: One hundred and one (31.3%) of these very preterm children were identified as having Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Of the children with DCD, 54.4% also had underachievement in literacy and/or numeracy. As the severity of motor impairment increased so too did the severity and complexity of underachievement. Significantly fewer children with motor impairments participated in after-school sporting activities. Children with DCD required more mechanical ventilation support during their hospital admission. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that a significant proportion of children born very preterm find both motor and academic skills difficult in early school years.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)769-776
    Number of pages8
    JournalEarly Human Development
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


    • Motor impairment
    • Underachievement
    • Very preterm children


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