Early spontaneous movements and spatiotemporal gait characteristics in preterm children


European Journal of Pediatrics, vol.182, no.6, pp.2913-2923, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 182 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00431-023-04949-7
  • Journal Name: European Journal of Pediatrics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.2913-2923
  • Keywords: Gait, Walking, General movements, Premature birth, Children
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


This study aimed to analyze spatiotemporal gait characteristics of preterm children from 3 to 4 years of age according to different gestational age groups and to examine the relationship between the detailed general movements assessment and spatiotemporal gait characteristics. A total of 74 preterm children, 32 extremely preterm and very preterm (EP-VP, < 32 weeks gestational age) and 42 moderate to late preterm (MLP, 32 to < 37 weeks gestational age), were included in this prospective study, along with 38 term children. Early spontaneous movements of preterm children were assessed from videos at 9–20 weeks post-term according to the general movements assessment, which determines the Motor Optimality Score-Revised (MOS-R). The spatiotemporal gait characteristics of all children were evaluated using the GAITRite®electronic walkway at self-selected walking speeds. EP-VP children walked with shorter step lengths (p = 0.039), and MLP children walked with greater step length variability (p = 0.003) than their term peers. The MOS-R results were related to step length (r = 0.36, p = 0.042), step length variability (r = −0.56, p = 0.001), and base of support (r = −0.37, p = 0.038) in EP-VP children. The MOS-R subcategories, age-adequate movement repertoire, and postural patterns were related to some of the spatiotemporal gait characteristics, including step length, step length variability, and base of support (p < 0.05). Conclusion: EP-VP and MLP children might catch up to their term peers at 3 to 4 years of age in terms of most gait parameters. In addition to the MOS-R, age-adequate movement repertoire and postural patterns of preterm children without cerebral palsy in early life may be a marker of later neurodevelopmental dysfunction.What is Known:• Preterm children walk with a wider step width, a greater step length asymmetry and step time, and a shorter stride length at 18 to 22 months of age compared with term children at a self-selected speed, while these differences disappear in children 4.5–5 years old and older.What is New:• Early spontaneous movements were related to some spatiotemporal gait characteristics.• Preterm children might catch up to term children at 3–4 years of age in spatiotemporal gait characteristics while walking at a self-selected speed.