Early moves research project

The Early Moves study is investigating whether a baby’s early movements can predict learning difficulties later in childhood.

17 Aug 2021

Early Moves research project 

Early Moves aims to better understand how to recognise developmental difficulties early enough to provide support and intervention in a baby's first year of life, a critical period in an infant’s brain development.

This groundbreaking research project uses home videos, recorded through a smart phone app by participating parents, to assess early movement patterns of young babies. When the infants turn two years old, a comprehensive developmental assessment is undertaken to help understand if the early movement patterns can predict later developmental and learning difficulties.

The project is based on the fact that babies’ early movements develop in a very particular way and can be used to show if the brain and nervous system are developing well or if there is any indication of the risk of developmental disorders.

General movements can usually detect motor problems in babies, such as Cerebral Palsy, and this study will help to identify if they predict other developmental disorders, such as cognitive impairment and autism spectrum disorder. Understanding this link will help us to better recognise learning difficulties early, so that we can give babies the best possible start to life by offering early intervention and support when their brain is developing rapidly. 

Benefits to families 

Participants will receive an early screening for risk of cerebral palsy through the 12 to 14 week video assessment and a full developmental assessment of your baby at two years of age.

Should any concerns be identified at either assessment, you will receive the best care and support to address these concerns. By being part of this study, you and your child could be involved in an important scientific advance.

Participating families are currently being sought for the project, which aims to follow 3000 Western Australian infants born at St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals and Joondalup Health Campus.

To find out how to setup the Baby Moves app to take videos of your baby for the project click here.

Research team

The project is co-led by Professor Jane Valentine at Perth Children’s Hospital and Professor Catherine Elliott at the Curtin University School of Allied Health. Early Moves is a sub-project of The Origins Project, and includes a number of investigators and research staff at Perth Children’s Hospital as well as local and national research institutes.

Along with researchers, Early Moves receives valuable contributions from the Early Moves Clinical Working Party, the clinical teams at St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals and Joondalup Health Campus, the ORIGINS consumer reference group and the Kids Rehab WA consumer group.

Early Moves is funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation, the Western Australian Child Research Fund (State Government of WA) and the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

For more information

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