The objective of this study was to correlate neurodevelopmental outcome of preterm-born children and their perinatal clinical and imaging characteristics with diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of the three cerebellar peduncles at age 7. Included in this prospective longitudinal study were 140 preterm-born children (<30 weeks gestation) who underwent neurodevelopmental assessment (IQ, motor, language, working memory) and diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI) at age 7 years. White matter tracts in the superior, middle, and inferior cerebellar peduncles were delineated using regions of interest drawn on T2-weighted images and fractional anisotropy (FA) maps. Diffusion measures (mean diffusivity (MD) and FA) and tract volumes were calculated. Linear regression was used to assess relationships with outcome. The severity of white matter injury in the neonatal period was associated with lower FA in the right superior cerebellar peduncle (SCP) and lower tract volumes of both SCPs and middle cerebellar peduncles (MCPs). In the MCP, higher IQ was associated with lower MD in the whole group and higher FA in right-handed children. In the SCP, lower motor scores were associated with higher MD and higher language scores were associated with higher FA. These associations remained significant in multivariable models. This study adds to the body of literature detailing the importance of cerebellar involvement in cognitive function related to reciprocal connections with supratentorial structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-325
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Cerebellum
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Neurodevelopmental outcome
  • Premature infants


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