A Systematic Review of the Predictive Validity of Neurobehavioral Assessments During the Preterm Period
Aims: For high-risk newborns, early assessment of neurobehavior that accurately predicts neurodevelopmental outcome is the first step towards determining early intervention needs. This study reviews systematically the validity of neurobehavioral assessments administered to premature newborns before term-equivalent age to predict long-term neurodevelopmental outcome. Methods: A systematic literature search of CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, PubMed, Web of Science, PsychInfo, Cochrane Library databases was conducted. PRISMA and COSMIN guidelines were followed. Results: Five assessments and 11 studies were identified: (a) Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS); (b) Test of Infant Motor Performance (TIMP); (c) General Movements (GMs); (d) Neurobehavioral Assessment of the Preterm Infant (NAPI); (e) Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale (NOMAS). Predictive validity estimates were variable. The GMs and TIMP showed the strongest associations with neurodevelopmental outcome. Threats to validity included small sample size, sample bias, limited reliability testing. Conclusions: Five neurobehavioral measures have established predictive validity for the assessment of premature newborns while they reside in the NICU. Although the GMs and TIMP have the strongest evidence, further higher quality research is required. New methods of testing should be developed that provide accurate prediction and minimize the potential stress induced during developmental assessments.