Infant Behav Dev 2018 05 1;51:1-14. Epub 2018 Mar 1.
PEDEGO Research Unit, Clinic of Child Psychiatry, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Finland.
Based on limitations in previous research evidence, we concluded that more research is needed for deeper understanding of how social-emotional and behavioral (SEB) outcomes among infant-toddler-aged children in the general population are associated with early motor development. In this study, we investigated associations between early competencies and problems, as measured by the Brief Infant-Toddler Social and Emotional Assessment (BITSEA), and the timing of achievement of the main gross and fine motor milestones usually attained during the first year of life in a general population context. The study sample consisted of 515 infants (mean age 12.9 [SD 0.9] months) and their parents (514 mothers, 434 fathers), who were recruited in child health centers in Northern Finland. The infants were divided into two groups, based on their BITSEA screen status, and motor milestone achievement ages were compared across BITSEA screen status No Concern and Of-Concern infants. An Of-Concern screen status on the maternal and paternal Competence scale and Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) item cluster was associated with later infant achievement ages for gross motor milestones. By contrast, infants who were screened to be in the Of-Concern range on the maternal Problem scale achieved gross motor milestones earlier than infants with the corresponding No Concern screen status. No significant associations were found between the paternal Problem scale screen status and infant motor development. In further analyses, the strongest associations were found between an Of-Concern screen status on the paternal Competence scale and ASD item cluster and infant motor development. The findings indicate that the inclusion of infant motor developmental information may assist early identification and the clinical interpretation of parental reports of early SEB problems. Clinical implications of the current findings are discussed in the paper.