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Aim: To determine the association between perinatal events and subsequent motor performance, cardiorespiratory endurance and respiratory function in non-disabled extremely low birthweight ( ELBW ) school children at 12 years of age. Methods: Forty-eight ELBW infants were included in this study. The Movement Assessment Battery for Children ( MABC ), VO2max score as a measure of cardiorespiratory endurance and respiratory function testing were performed and perinatal variables were extracted from the children's hospital files. Children with MABC score ≤ 15th centile were described as having suspect motor performance. Children were classified as being unfit with a VO2max > 1 standard deviation below the mean according to gender and age. Perinatal risk factors were explored as risk factors for motor outcome, cardiorespiratory endurance and respiratory function. Results: MABC category was significantly related with gender ( P = 0.005 ) and chronic neonatal lung disease ( P = 0.013 ). Multiple regression analysis showed motor outcome at 12 years to be independently related to male gender ( P = 0.03 ) and chronic neonatal lung disease ( P = 0.045 ). Sixty-five per cent of all the children were identified as unfit. Chronic neonatal lung disease was significantly related to cardiorespiratory endurance ( P = 0.03 ) and predicted VO2max at 12 years ( P = 0.05 ). No perinatal factors were significantly related to respiratory function variables. Conclusion: Male gender and chronic neonatal lung disease were associated with later motor outcome of ELBW school children. It is suggested that objective and consistent follow-up from childhood through preadolescence are important to address motor and fitness issues especially for male children born with ELBW.

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