The long-term neuromotor, cognitive, and behavioral development of very low-birthweight (VLBW) infants with transient dystonia, and without cerebral palsy, was evaluated at the Department of Paediatrics, University of Bergen, Norway. Of 50 VLBW infants, 14 had transient dystonia (7 to 18 months) that was associated with low 1 min Apgar scores, bacterial infection, and lack of breast milk. At 5 years of age, Peabody Developmental Motor Scales, WPPSI, and Personality and Yale Children’s Inventories showed scores that were comparable in infants with or without transient dystonia, although dystonic children had a greater tendency to eye-hand incoordination and gait problems. [1]

COMMENT. Dystonia or increased muscle tone during the first year of life in VLBW children may be associated with later development of incoordination and motor problems but is not a risk factor for greater cognitive or behavioral impairments.

Determination of head circumference at 8 months of age is predictive of subsequent cognitive and behavioral problems in VLBW infants; subnormal head size is associated with lower IQ and higher incidence of hyperactivity at 8 years of age. (Progress in Pediatric Neurology II, PNB Publ, 1994:p194). Improvements in neonatal growth and development may depend on breast feeding and nutrition of chronically ill, low-birthweight neonates and environmental enrichment after discharge from hospital.