Primitive reflexes and motor development were evaluated in 127 very low birth weight (VLBW) infants (birth weight < 1501 grams) at four months corrected age. The asymmetrical tonic neck reflex, tonic labyrinth reflex, and Moro reflex were assessed for each child. The ability of each child to reach (obtain a red ring) and roll were observed. The child's performance on the gross motor scale of the Denver Development Screening Test was recorded. Thirty-seven term infants were administered identical evaluations at four months of age. The VLBW infants retained stronger primitive reflexes and exhibited a significantly higher incidence of motor delays than term infants. Significant correlations existed between the strength of the primitive reflexes and early motor development for VLBW infants. This study confirms a high incidence of motor delays among VLBW infants and demonstrates a clear association between retained primitive reflexes and delayed motor development in VLBW infants.
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