Early motor signs of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review

A. Athanasiadou, J. K. Buitelaar, P. Brovedani, O. Chorna, F. Fulceri, A. Guzzetta, Maria Luisa Scattoni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


ADHD is a common neurodevelopmental disorder with onset of symptoms typically in early childhood. First signs of the disorder, including language delay, motor delay and temperament characteristics, may be evident as early as infancy. The present review describes published evidence about early motor signs of either children with later symptoms of ADHD or a later diagnosis of the disorder. Nine published cohort studies were included after a systematic search of related terms in PubMed and PsycInfo databases. Study eligibility criteria included: (1) report on early motor function or any motor-related signs; (2) the presence of a participants’ assessment by/at 12 months of age; (3) report of a later presence of ADHD symptoms. The limited number of reports included suggests an association between mild early neurological markers and later developmental coordination disorder and motor overflow movements. Unfortunately, due to their small sample sizes and focus on group reports rather than individuals, they have limited power to find strong associations. Early motor indicators of ADHD, if present, appear to be non-specific, and therefore not yet useful in clinical screening. Spontaneous motility seems to be a promising measure for early ADHD detection, although further studies with large cohorts are recommended to determine its clinical role in children at risk for ADHD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Early motor signs
  • General movements (GMs)
  • Infancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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