Developmental Assessment of Premature Infants

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The response characteristics of premature infants at 8 weekly postconception age levels (33 to 40 weeks) were studied in a cross-sectional design. The consistency of behavioral and reflexive responses was assessed on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale. Age-related (nonsignificant) trends were seen in behavioral responses such as orientation, alertness, motor maturity, and state control. On 12 elicited responses and 14 behavioral items, significant differences were obtained between 33− and 40-week exams. These results suggest that while the maturational processes of a preterm infant may be detected using this scale, it is not, without qualification, an appropriate clinical instrument for use with this group. However, the Brazelton scale may be useful in research on group differences in the developing capabilities of preterm infants.

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