Published online by Cambridge University Press: 10 November 2010
Back in 1977, we began to develop a neurobehavioral assessment for preterm infants that would allow us to measure the effects of a longitudinal, randomized, controlled intervention study with preterm infants. In designing our assessment procedure we started from the premise that the most relevant and important goal of any intervention would be to facilitate the normality of the infants developmental course so that their maturity and ultimate development would not be too discrepant from that of full-term newborns within the normal range. Therefore, to assess the effects of our intervention, our prime objective was to use an instrument that could measure the differential maturity of functioning of randomly assigned experimental and control groups of preterm infants.
At the time, only very few assessments existed that measured the neurobehavioral maturity of premature newborns. Most of the ones available were techniques that measured gestational age and they were applicable only to infants within the first week after birth (e.g., Robinson, Dubowitz et al., and Finnström). The only assessments available in 1977 for measuring longitudinally the maturity of functioning of preterm infants were those by Amiel-Tison and Saint-Anne Dargassies.
Although these French neonatal neurologists systematically assessed and documented the maturational course of neural functions of preterm infants aged 28 weeks postconception to term, they illustrated and scored the age differences in infant functioning only in 2-week increments.