Article Text

PDF
Cognitive trajectories from infancy to early adulthood in the EPICure cohort: time to refocus research on how to break the ‘natural limits’ of brain plasticity
  1. Thuy Mai Luu,
  2. Anne-Monique Nuyt
  1. Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine, Department of Pediatrics and Research Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thuy Mai Luu, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine, Department of Pediatrics and Research Centre, Montreal, Quebec H3T 1C5, Canada; thuy.mai.luu{at}umontreal.ca

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Preterm birth occurs during a critical period of brain development. For babies born before 26 weeks’ gestational age, neurons have just completed migration to the cortex and are starting to form a network of connections. Cortical surface area is expanded through gyration and maturation continues with myelination of the axons. Unfortunately, extremely preterm babies are not only vulnerable to direct brain injury but their exposure to physiological and metabolic stress resulting from their systemic illness may also permanently disrupt normal brain ontogenesis leading to long-lasting cognitive deficits.

This is highlighted in the EPICure cohort study which reported on 315 infants born in 1995 in the UK and Ireland before 26 weeks’ gestational age. These infants were prospectively assessed for cognitive function at 2.5, 6, 11 and 19 years of age.1 Term-born controls were recruited starting at 6 years allowing for longitudinal comparisons from school entry through to early adulthood. What this study showed was the quite significant 25-point gap in intellectual quotient (IQ) (ie, nearly two SD) for the extremely preterm group relative to term-born controls across years. Within the extremely preterm group, being a male and having sustained a severe neonatal brain injury conferred additional disadvantage. Higher maternal education …

View Full Text

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.