The aim of this systematic literature review was to examine and discuss studies that investigated reaching in preterm infants during the first year of life. Databases were searched using keywords such as reaching, grasping, preterm, and premature, in addition to specific terms from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) (motor skills, infant, movement, premature birth, hands) regardless of year of publication. One hundred thirty-five studies were identified, 9 of which were selected. The results showed that preterm infants adopt strategies (bimanual reaches and reaches with less rectilinear trajectories toward an object in motion, reaches with semi-open and open hand, reaches at lower speeds, with increased movement units, and variable postural muscle activity) compared with full-term infants. However, the results on how intrinsic factors (e.g., prematurity) and extrinsic factors (e.g., body position, physical properties of the object) influence early reaching are still limited.
Guimarães is a professor with the Dept. of Applied Physiotherapy, Federal University of Triangulo Mineiro, Uberaba-MG, Brazil. Cunha, Soares, and Tudella are with the Dept. of Physiotherapy, Federal University of São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil.