Visual Perception, Fine Motor, and Visual-Motor Skills in Very Preterm and Term-Born Children before School Entry–Observational Cohort Study

Very preterm children (<32 weeks gestation at birth; VP) are at risk of developmental difficulties. Specific functional difficulties and delays in visual perception, fine motor, and visual-motor skills have received little research attention, although they are critical for daily life and school readiness. Our aim was to assess these skills in a contemporary cohort of 60 VP and 60 matched term-born children before school entry. We administered the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (M-ABC-2) and the Developmental Test of Visual Perception (DTVP-2). Linear and logistic regressions were run to test group differences in performance and rates of developmental delay in visual perception, fine motor, and visual-motor skills. Very preterm children had lower scores than term-born children in visual perception (β = -0.25; p = 0.006), fine motor (β = -0.44; p < 0.001), and visual-motor tasks (β = -0.46; p < 0.001). The rate of developmental delay (<-1 SD) was higher among VP in visual perception (odds ratio (OR) = 3.4; 95% confidence interval (CI 1.1-10.6)), fine motor (OR = 6.2 (2.4-16.0)), and visual-motor skills (OR = 13.4 (4.1-43.9)) than in term-born controls. VP children are at increased risk for clinically relevant developmental delays in visual perception, fine motor, and visual-motor skills. Following up VP children until preschool age may facilitate early identification and timely intervention.


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