Are sucking patterns and early spontaneous movements related to later developmental functioning outcomes? A cohort study


European Journal of Pediatrics, vol.183, no.3, pp.1435-1446, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 183 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00431-024-05422-9
  • Journal Name: European Journal of Pediatrics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE
  • Page Numbers: pp.1435-1446
  • Keywords: Developmental functioning, Early spontaneous movements, Fidgety movements, General movements, Sucking pattern
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Sucking patterns and early spontaneous movements have an important role in the determination of later developmental problems, but the relationship of the two together with long-term outcomes has not been investigated. The objectives of this study were to (i) examine the relationship between sucking patterns using the Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale (NOMAS) and fidgety movements and other movement patterns using detailed General Movements Assessment (GMA), and (ii) investigate the relationship between these early assessment methods and developmental functioning outcomes at later ages. We analyzed the NOMAS from 34 weeks’ postmenstrual age up to 10 weeks post-term and GMA between 9 and 20 weeks post-term age, and the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development-Third Edition (Bayley-III) was applied for the developmental functioning outcomes to 62 infants (61%, 62/102) between 12 and 42 months of age. Among 102 infants at-risk, 70 (69%) showed a normal sucking pattern, and 85 (83%) had fidgety movements. The median Motor Optimality Score-Revised (MOS-R), as determined by GMA, of all infants was 24. The NOMAS was related to the MOS-R and its subcategories (p < 0.05) in all infants at-risk. The NOMAS, MOS-R and its subcategories were also related to cognitive, language, and motor development at later ages according to Bayley-III (p < 0.05). Conclusion: This longitudinal study showed that the quality of sucking patterns, fidgety movements, and MOS-R were related to later developmental functioning, indicating that abnormal sucking patterns, aberrant fidgety movements, and lower MOS-R might predict developmental disorders. What is Known: • Sucking patterns and early spontaneous movements in which central pattern generators play an important role are related. • Sucking patterns and early spontaneous movements might be used separately to predict developmental outcomes. What is New: • Sucking patterns and early spontaneous movements, when used together, were related to later developmental functioning, including cognitive, language, and motor development in at-risk infants. • Predictive value of sucking patterns was lower for each developmental functioning outcome than early spontaneous movements.