Magnetic resonance imaging and T2 relaxometry of cerebral white matter and hippocampus in children born preterm

Pediatr Res. 2003 Dec;54(6):868-74. doi: 10.1203/01.PDR.0000091285.84577.4E. Epub 2003 Aug 20.


The objective of this study was to determine whether intelligence and minor motor impairments in children who are born preterm without major disability are associated with cerebral white matter (CWM) and hippocampal abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A total of 103 preterm children were studied at age 7 y with detailed magnetic resonance brain scans, including a T2-mapping sequence from which T2 relaxation times of the CWM and hippocampal formations were calculated. All of the children had no major motor disability, attended normal school, and had undergone assessment of IQ and a test for minor motor impairment (MMI). Twenty children had visible lesions on MRI, which were associated with lower IQ and more frequent MMI. Mean (SD) IQ was 90 (14.1). Twenty-five children were shown to have MMI (Movement ABC at below the fifth centile). This group was shown to have significantly longer T2 relaxation times for CWM (mean difference 2.1 ms right, 3.1 ms left) but not the hippocampus than the children without MMI. These differences persisted when only children without visible lesions on scans were considered (mean difference 1.5 ms bilaterally). There was no significant correlation between IQ and T2 relaxation times. Children who are born preterm without subsequent major neurodisability may, in addition to visible lesions on MRI scans, have a diffuse abnormality of CWM, manifest as an increase in T2 relaxation time. This abnormality shows a close correlation with minor motor impairment but not with full-scale IQ.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Hippocampus / abnormalities*
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Intelligence
  • Learning Disabilities / pathology
  • Learning Disabilities / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Movement Disorders / pathology
  • Movement Disorders / physiopathology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / pathology