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Sitting Matters! Differences Between Sitters and Nonsitters at 6 Months' Adjusted Age in Infants At-Risk and Born Preterm

Jensen-Willett, Sandra PT, MS, PCS; Pleasant, Malinda DPT; Jackson, Barbara PhD; Needelman, Howard MD; Roberts, Holly PhD; McMorris, Carol BA

doi: 10.1097/PEP.0000000000000622

Purpose: Sitting delays in infants born preterm compound cognitive and language deficits. This retrospective study examines differences in prematurity-related risk and compares developmental outcomes between sitters and nonsitters at 6 months' adjusted age.

Methods: A total of 105 graduates of the neonatal intensive care unit met inclusion criteria. Infant demographic and medical risk profiles and 6-month Bayley Scales of Infant Development-3rd edition (BSID-III) cognitive and language scores were retrieved. Infants who sat with hands free greater than 60 seconds were classified as “sitters.”

Results: Sixty-nine percent of the sample were nonsitters and were born earlier, had lower birth weights, were chronologically older at follow-up, and spent more days with respiratory support. BSID-III scores were significantly higher in sitters but did not differ by gender, multiple birth, head ultrasound results, payment type, or race/ethnicity.

Conclusion: Sitting abilities at 6 months' adjusted age are associated with prematurity risk factors. Cognitive and language scores differ significantly between sitters and nonsitters.

This retrospective study examines differences in prematurity-related risk and compares developmental outcomes between sitters and non-sitters at 6 months adjusted age.

Departments of Physical Therapy (Ms Jensen-Willett and Dr Pleasant), Education and Child Development (Dr Jackson and Ms McMorris), Developmental Medicine (Dr Needelman), and Psychology (Dr Roberts), Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska.

Correspondence: Sandra Jensen-Willett, PT, MS, PCS, Munroe Meyer Institute, Omaha NE 68105 (

Grant Support: At the time this article was written, Sandra (Sandy) Willett was a PhD student with grant support from the Clinical Translational Research-Mentored Scholar's Program at the UNMC, Omaha, Nebraska; Malinda Pleasant was a Pediatric Physical Therapy Resident at the MMI with support from the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program, the UNMC, Omaha, Nebraska. All authors are members of the State of Nebraska Tracking Infant Progress Statewide (TIPS) team, which receives financial support from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2019 Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association