Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of cranial ultrasound abnormalities in very preterm infants as a function of gestational age, plurality, intrauterine growth restriction, and death before discharge.
Study design: A prospective, population-based cohort of 2667 infants born between 22 and 32 weeks of gestation in 1997 in nine regions of France, transferred to a neonatal intensive care unit, for whom at least one cranial ultrasound scan was available.
Results: The frequencies of white matter damage (WMD), major WMD, cystic periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), periventricular parenchymal hemorrhagic involvement, and intraventricular hemorrhage with ventricular dilatation were 21%, 8%, 5%, 3%, and 3%, respectively. The risk of WMD increased with decreasing gestational age. Mean age at diagnosis of cystic PVL was older for the most premature infants. Intraventricular hemorrhage with ventricular dilatation was associated with a higher risk of cystic PVL. Intrauterine growth restriction was not associated with a lower prevalence of cystic PVL.
Conclusion: The frequency of WMD is high in very preterm babies and is strongly related to gestational age. The incidence of cystic PVL did not differ between babies with intrauterine growth restriction and babies who were appropriate for gestational age.