Child's Nervous System

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 1145–1152 | Cite as

Peripheral nervous system maturation in preterm infants: longitudinal motor and sensory nerve conduction studies

  • S. Lori
  • Giovanna Bertini
  • M. Bastianelli
  • S. Gabbanini
  • D. Gualandi
  • E. Molesti
  • C. Dani
Original Paper



To study the evolution of sensory-motor nerves in the upper and lower limbs in neurologically healthy preterm infants and to use sensory-motor studies to compare the rate of maturation in preterm infants at term age and full-term healthy neonates.


The study comprised 26 neurologically normal preterm infants born at 23–33 weeks of gestational age, who underwent sensory nerve conduction and motor nerve conduction studies from plantar medial and median nerves and from tibial and ulnar nerves, respectively. We repeated the same neurophysiological studies in 19 of the preterm infants every 2 weeks until postnatal term age. The data from the preterm infants at term was matched with a group of ten full-term babies a few days after birth.


The motor nerve conduction velocity of the tibial and ulnar nerves showed progressive increases in values in relation to gestational age, but there was a decrease of values in distal latencies and F wave latencies. Similarly, there was a gradual increase of sensory nerve conduction velocity values of the medial plantar and median nerves and decreases in latencies in relation to gestational age. At term age, the preterm infants showed significantly lower values of conduction velocities and distal latencies than the full-term neonates. These results were probably because the preterm infants had significantly lower weights, total length and, in particular, distal segments of the limbs at term age.


The sensory-motor conduction parameters were clearly related to gestational age, but extrauterine life did not affect the maturation of the peripheral nervous system in the very preterm babies who were neurologically healthy.


Myelination Nerve conduction Preterm infants Peripheral nervous system 



Compound muscle action potential


Central nervous system


Gestational age


Motor nerve conduction velocity


Peripheral nervous system


Sensory action potential


Sensory nerve conduction velocity


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neurophysiology Unit, Neuro-Musculo-Skeletal DepartmentCareggi University HospitalFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Neurosciences, Psychology, Drug Research and Children’s HealthUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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