To gain more insight into child and environmental factors that influence gross motor development (GMD) of healthy infants from birth until reaching the milestone of independent walking, based on longitudinal research.
A systematic search was conducted using Scopus, PsycINFO, MEDLINE and CINAHL to identify studies from inception to February 2020. Studies that investigated the association between child or environmental factors and infant GMD using longitudinal measurements of infant GMD were eligible. Two independent reviewers extracted key information and assessed risk of bias of the selected studies, using the Quality in Prognostic Studies tool (QUIPS). Strength of evidence (strong, moderate, limited, conflicting, no evidence) for the factors identified was described according to a previously established classification.
In 36 studies, six child and 11 environmental factors were identified. Five studies were categorized as having low risk of bias. Strong evidence was found for the association between birthweight and GMD in healthy full‐term and preterm infants. Moderate evidence was found for associations between gestational age and GMD, and sleeping position and GMD. There was conflicting evidence for associations between twinning and GMD, and breastfeeding and GMD. No evidence was found for an association between maternal postpartum depression and GMD. Evidence for the association of other factors with GMD was classified as ‘limited’ because each of these factors was examined in only one longitudinal study.
Infant GMD appears associated with two child factors (birthweight, gestational age), and one environmental factor (sleeping position). For the other factors identified in this review, insufficient evidence for an association with GMD was found. For those factors that were examined in only one longitudinal study, and are therefore classified as having limited evidence, more research would be needed to reach a conclusion.