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Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities

Current Research

Longitudinal Assessment of Leg Spontaneous Motor Activity in Infants with and without Down Syndrome

Contact: Rosa Angulo-Barroso (
Dale Ulrich (

Whether infants with Down syndrome (DS) perform leg movements with the same frequency and quality than their typically developing counterparts is still a topic in debate. Furthermore, the relationship between these early leg movements and later onset of locomotor milestones has been only partially explored. The aims of this study were (1) to describe the longitudinal levels of leg motor activity in infants with and without DS between the ages of 3-6 months, (2) to examine the relationships between level of spontaneous leg motor activity and onset of subsequent locomotor milestones, and (3) to explore sleeping patterns and their potential impact on subsequent locomotor development. An activity monitor was placed on the ankle of infants for 48 hrs on a monthly basis. Data were analyzed to extract day and night, high and low levels of activity, and sleep fragmentation. A follow-up was implemented to define the onset of locomotor milestones. The results suggest that infants with DS produced more low activity compared to their peers. They also showed more fragmented sleep. Both variables correlated with the onset of locomotor milestones in such a way that more low level activity and more fragmented sleep were related to delays in the onset of these milestones. These findings support the importance of early motor activity and sleeping patterns on achievement of functional motor behavior.

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Center for Motor Behavior & Pediatric Disabilities
401 Washtenaw Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214
(734)936-2607, Fax (734)936-1925

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Created September 1, 1999