Associations of Newborn Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging with Long-Term Neurodevelopmental Impairments in Very Preterm Children

Peter J. Anderson, Karli Treyvaud, Jeffrey J. Neil, Jeanie L.Y. Cheong, Rodney W. Hunt, Deanne K. Thompson, Katherine J. Lee, Lex W. Doyle, Terrie E. Inder

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71 Scopus citations


Objective To determine the relationship between brain abnormalities on newborn magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neurodevelopmental impairment at 7 years of age in very preterm children. Study design A total of 223 very preterm infants (<30 weeks of gestation or <1250 g) born at Melbourne's Royal Women's Hospital had a brain MRI scan at term equivalent age. Scans were scored using a standardized system that assessed structural abnormality of cerebral white matter, cortical gray matter, deep gray matter, and cerebellum. Children were assessed at 7 years on measures of general intelligence, motor functioning, academic achievement, and behavior. Results One hundred eighty-six very preterm children (83%) had both an MRI at term equivalent age and a 7-year follow-up assessment. Higher global brain, cerebral white matter, and deep gray matter abnormality scores were related to poorer intelligence quotient (IQ) (Ps <.01), spelling (Ps <.05), math computation (Ps <.01), and motor function (Ps <.001). Higher cerebellum abnormality scores were related to poorer IQ (P =.001), math computation (P =.018), and motor outcomes (P =.001). Perinatal, neonatal, and social confounders had little effect on the relationships between the MRI abnormality scores and outcomes. Moderate-severe global abnormality on newborn MRI was associated with a reduction in IQ (−6.9 points), math computation (−7.1 points), and motor (−1.9 points) scores independent of the other potential confounders. Conclusions Structured evaluation of brain MRI at term equivalent is predictive of outcome at 7 years of age, independent of clinical and social factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-65.e1
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • brain imaging
  • brain pathology
  • outcome
  • prematurity


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