Preterm children have disturbances of white matter at 11 years of age as shown by diffusion tensor imaging

Pediatr Res. 2003 Nov;54(5):672-9. doi: 10.1203/01.PDR.0000084083.71422.16. Epub 2003 Aug 6.


Preterm birth frequently involves white matter injury and affects long-term neurologic and cognitive outcomes. Diffusion tensor imaging has been used to show that the white matter microstructure of newborn, preterm children is compromised in a regionally specific manner. However, until now it was not clear whether these lesions would persist and be detectible on long-term follow-up. Hence, we collected diffusion tensor imaging data on a 1.5-T scanner, and computed fractional anisotropy and coherence measures to compare the white matter integrity of children born preterm to that of control subjects. The subjects for the preterm group (10.9 +/- 0.29 y; n = 9; birth weight <or= 1500 g; mean gestational age, 28.6 +/- 1.05 wk) possessed attention deficits, a common problem in preterms. They were compared with age- and sex-matched control children (10.8 +/- 0.33 y; n = 10; birth weight >or= 2500; gestational age, >or= 37 wk). We found that the preterm group had lower fractional anisotropy values in the posterior corpus callosum and bilaterally in the internal capsules. In the posterior corpus callosum this difference in fractional anisotropy values may partially be related to a difference in white matter volume between the groups. An analysis of the coherence measure failed to indicate a group difference in the axonal organization. These results are in agreement with previous diffusion tensor imaging findings in newborn preterm children, and indicate that ex-preterm children with attention deficits have white matter disturbances that are not compensated for or repaired before 11 y of age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / pathology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neural Pathways / pathology*