OBJECTIVE: To investigate the incidence and timing of neonatal ultrasound lesions, and clinical details about pregnancy and the perinatal period, in a total population of extremely premature children with cerebral palsy, born to mothers who were resident in Oxfordshire. METHODS: Eighteen children born at less than 32 completed weeks of gestation were identified from a regional cerebral palsy register. Eighteen controls were matched for gestation, time, and place of birth. Perinatal records and ultrasound reports were systematically reviewed. Sequential neonatal ultrasound images stored on videotape were reanalysed, blind to the outcome of the infants. RESULTS: Sixteen (89%) of the cerebral palsy cases and one (6%) control had parenchymal cysts on neonatal brain scans. Of the cerebral palsy cases, none had cysts detectable on the first day. Six developed cysts within the first 10 days of life, and two of these had periventricular echodensities when first scanned postnatally. Antenatal complications were recorded in 16 cases and nine controls. The early postnatal appearance of cysts in a few babies with a history of severe antenatal complications suggested that antenatal factors may have contributed to the cerebral pathology. CONCLUSIONS: Intrauterine factors may have contributed to adverse neurological outcome, but 16/18 of the preterm cerebral palsy cases had an associated cerebral lesion which developed in the perinatal period.
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