Effect of antenatal growth and prematurity on brain white matter: diffusion tensor study
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White matter maturation is characterised by increasing fractional anisotropy (FA) and decreasing mean diffusivity (MD). Contradictory results have been published on the effect of premature birth on white matter maturation at term-equivalent age.
To assess the association of gestational age and low birth-weight-for-gestational-age (z-score) with white matter maturation.
Materials and methods
Infants (n = 76, 53 males) born at different gestational ages were imaged at term-equivalent age. Gestational age and birth weight z-score were used as continuous variables and the effect on diffusion parameters was assessed. Brain maturation was studied using regions-of-interest analysis in several white matter areas.
Gestational age showed no significant effect on white matter maturation at term-equivalent age. Children with low birth weight z-score had lower FA in the genu and splenium of the corpus callosum (regression, P = 0.012 and P = 0.032; correlation, P = 0.009 and P = 0.006, respectively), and higher MD in the splenium of the corpus callosum (regression, P = 0.002; correlation, P = 0.0004) compared to children whose birth weight was appropriate for gestational age.
Children with low birth weight relative to gestational age show delay and/or anomaly in white matter maturation at term-equivalent age.
KeywordsPreterm infant Diffusion tensor imaging Antenatal growth White matter maturation
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