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Regional brain volumes, microstructure and neurodevelopment in moderate–late preterm children

Abstract

Objective To explore whether regional brain volume and white matter microstructure at term-equivalent age (TEA) are associated with development at 2 years of age in children born moderate–late preterm (MLPT).

Study design A cohort of MLPT infants had brain MRI at approximately TEA (38–44 weeks’ postmenstrual age) and had a developmental assessment (Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development and Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment) at 2 years’ corrected age. Relationships between cortical grey matter and white matter volumes and 2-year developmental outcomes were explored using voxel-based morphometry. Relationships between diffusion tensor measures of white matter microstructure (fractional anisotropy (FA) and axial (AD), radial (RD) and mean (MD) diffusivities) and 2-year developmental outcomes were explored using tract-based spatial statistics.

Results 189 MLPT children had data from at least one MRI modality (volumetric or diffusion) and data for at least one developmental domain. Larger cortical grey and white matter volumes in many brain regions, and higher FA and lower AD, RD and MD in several major white matter regions, were associated with better cognitive and language scores. There was little evidence that cortical grey matter and white matter volumes and white matter microstructure were associated with motor and behavioural outcomes.

Conclusions Regional cortical grey matter and white matter volumes and white matter microstructure are associated with cognitive and language development at 2 years of age in MLPT children. Thus, early alterations to brain volumes and microstructure may contribute to some of the developmental deficits described in MLPT children.

  • imaging
  • neonatology
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