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Caregiver-reported newborn term and preterm motor abilities: psychometrics of the PediaTracTM Motor domain



Approximately 5–10% of children exhibit developmental deviations in motor skills or other domains; however, physicians detect less than one-third of these abnormalities. Systematic tracking and early identification of motor deviations are fundamental for timely intervention.


Term and preterm neonates were prospectively assessed at the newborn (NB) period in a study of the psychometric properties of the Motor (MOT) domain of PediaTracTM v3.0, a novel caregiver-based development tracking instrument. Item response theory graded response modeling was used to model item parameters and estimate theta, an index of the latent trait, motor ability. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted to examine the dimensionality and factor structure.


In a cohort of 571 caregiver/infant dyads (331 term, 240 preterm), NB MOT domain reliability was high (rho = 0.94). Item discrimination and item difficulty of each of the 15 items could be reliably modeled across the range of motor ability. EFA confirmed that the items constituted a single dimension with second-order factors, accounting for 43.20% of variance.


The latent trait, motor ability, could be reliably estimated at the NB period.


  • The caregiver-reported Motor domain of PediaTrac provides a reliable estimate of the latent trait of motor ability during the newborn period.

  • This is the first known caregiver-reported instrument that can assess motor ability in the newborn period with high reliability in term and preterm infants.

  • Item response theory methods were employed that will allow for future characterization of developmental subgroups and motor trajectories.

  • The PediaTrac Motor domain can support early identification of at-risk infants.

  • Including caregivers in digital reporting and child-centered monitoring of motor functioning may improve access to care.

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Fig. 1: Test information curve and reliability curve for the PediaTrac newborn Motor domain.

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available yet as this is a longitudinal investigation that is still underway. Upon completion of the longitudinal investigation, the datasets generated during this study will be deposited into the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR).


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The investigators express their sincere gratitude to caregivers who participated in the PediaTrac project. We would like to acknowledge the Corner Health Center for their support in helping recruit those with the greatest need.


This study was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number (R01HD095957). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health. Efforts of S.W. were also supported in part by the Mildred E. Swanson Foundation.

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Conception and design of the study: R.L.-O., T.R., S.W., P.B., A.H.-B., H.G.T., J.C.G.L., J.B., and A.L. Acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data: T.R., P.B., A.D.S., J.C.G.L., R.L.-O., S.W., A.H.-B., and H.G.T.. Drafting and revising the manuscript (original): R.L.-O., T.R., P.B., S.W., A.H.-B., H.G.T., A.S., and J.C.G.L. Final approval: R.L.-O., T.R., P.B., A.H.-B., H.G.T., A.S., J.B., A.L., J.C.G.L., and S.W.

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Correspondence to Renee Lajiness-O’Neill.

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Participant consent was required, with the study approved by the University of Michigan IRB of Record (HUM00151584).

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Lajiness-O’Neill, R., Raghunathan, T., Berglund, P. et al. Caregiver-reported newborn term and preterm motor abilities: psychometrics of the PediaTracTM Motor domain. Pediatr Res (2022).

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