Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 4, pp 1139–1148 | Cite as

Early motor signs of autism spectrum disorder in spontaneous position and movement of the head

  • Hirotaka Gima
  • Hideki Kihara
  • Hama Watanabe
  • Hisako Nakano
  • Junji Nakano
  • Yukuo Konishi
  • Tomohiko Nakamura
  • Gentaro Taga
Research Article


We examined the characteristics of spontaneous movements at 9–20 weeks postterm age in very low birth-weight infants who later developed autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We analyzed video recordings of spontaneous movements of 39 children who had no clinical issues [typically developing (TD) group], 21 children who showed developmental delay, and 14 children who were diagnosed with ASD (ASD group) at 6 years of age. Head position in each video frame was classified by visual inspection. The percentage of midline head position (PMHP) and number of changes in head position were calculated. Spontaneous limb movements were quantified using six indices. The values of PMHP were significantly lower in the ASD group than in the TD group. The lower PMHP during early infancy is associated with later development of ASD. Poorer performance in maintaining midline position of the head at this period may distinguish infants who later develop ASD from those who show TD.


Very low birth-weight infants Autism spectrum disorder Early motor sign Spontaneous movements Head position 



The work reported in this paper was supported by a MEXT Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (no. 24119002 to G. T. and no. 16K16620 to H. G.).

Supplementary material

221_2018_5202_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (380 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 379 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hirotaka Gima
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hideki Kihara
    • 3
  • Hama Watanabe
    • 2
  • Hisako Nakano
    • 4
  • Junji Nakano
    • 5
  • Yukuo Konishi
    • 6
  • Tomohiko Nakamura
    • 7
  • Gentaro Taga
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Faculty of Regional SciencesTottori UniversityTottoriJapan
  2. 2.Department of Physical and Health Education, Graduate School of EducationThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Babycastle corporationFukuokaJapan
  4. 4.Department of Physical Therapy, School of SciencesKyorin UniversityMitakaJapan
  5. 5.Department of Data ScienceThe Institute of Statistical MathematicsTachikawaJapan
  6. 6.Center of Baby ScienceDoshisha UniversityKizugawaJapan
  7. 7.Department of NeonatologyNagano Children’s HospitalAzuminoJapan

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