Regional brain volume reduction and cognitive outcomes in preterm children at low risk at 9 years of age
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More information is needed on “low-risk” preterm infants’ neurological outcome so that they can be included in follow-up programs. A prospective study was performed to examine the regional brain volume changes compared to term children and to assess the relationship between the regional brain volumes to cognitive outcome of the low-risk preterm children at 9 years of age.
Subjects comprised 22 preterm children who were determined to be at low risk for neurodevelopmental deficits with a gestational age between 28 and 33 weeks without a major neonatal morbidity in the neonatal period and 24 age-matched term control children term and matched for age, sex, and parental educational and occupational status.
Regional volumetric analysis was performed for cerebellum, hippocampus, and corpus callosum area. Cognitive outcomes of both preterm and control subjects were assessed by Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children Revised (Turkish version), and attention and executive functions were assessed by Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and Stroop Test TBAG version.
Low-risk preterm children showed regional brain volume reduction in cerebellum, hippocampus, and corpus callosum area and achieved statistical significance when compared with term control. When the groups were compared for all WISC-R subscale scores, preterm children at low risk had significantly lower scores on information, vocabulary, similarities, arithmetics, picture completion, block design, object assembly, and coding compared to children born at term. Preterm and term groups were compared on the Stroop Test for mistakes and corrections made on each card, the time spent for completing each card, and total mistakes and corrections. In the preterm group, we found a positive correlation between regional volumes with IQ, attention, and executive function scores. Additionally, a significant correlation was found between cerebellar volume and attention and executive function scores in the preterm group.
Low-risk preterm children achieve lower scores in neurophysiological tests than children born at term. Preterm birth itself has a significant impact on regional brain volumes and cognitive outcome of children at 9 years of age. It is a risk factor for regional brain volume reductions in preterm children with low risk for neurodevelopmental deficits. The significant interaction between cerebellar volume reduction and executive function and attention may suggest that even in preterm children at low risk can have different trajectories in the growth and development of overall brain structure.
KeywordsPreterm children Neurological outcome Brain
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Conflict of interest
There are no conflict of interest.
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