Fidgety movements - tiny in appearance, but huge in impact.

C Einspieler*, R Peharz, PB Marschik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To describe fidgety movements (FMs), i.e., the spontaneous movement pattern that typically occurs at 3–5 months after term age, and discuss its clinical relevance.
A comprehensive literature search was performed using the following databases: MEDLINE/PubMed, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library, Science Direct, PsycINFO, and EMBASE. The search strategy included the MeSH terms and search strings (‘fidgety movement*’) OR [(‘general movement*’) AND (‘three month*’) OR (‘3 month*’)], as well as studies published on the General Movements Trust website (
Summary of the data
Virtually all infants develop normally if FMs are present and normal, even if their brain ultrasound findings and/or clinical histories indicate a disposition to later neurological deficits. Conversely, almost all infants who never develop FMs have a high risk for neurological deficits such as cerebral palsy, and for genetic disorders with a late onset. If FMs are normal but concurrent postural patterns are not age-adequate or the overall movement character is monotonous, cognitive and/or language skills at school age will be suboptimal. Abnormal FMs are unspecific and have a low predictive power, but occur exceedingly in infants later diagnosed with autism.
Abnormal, absent, or sporadic FMs indicate an increased risk for later neurological dysfunction, whereas normal FMs are highly predictive of normal development, especially if they co-occur with other smooth and fluent movements. Early recognition of neurological signs facilitates early intervention. It is important to re-assure parents of infants with clinical risk factors that the neurological outcome will be adequate if FMs develop normally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S64-S70
JournalJornal de Pediatria
Issue number3, Suppl
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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