Low superior vena cava flow and neurodevelopment at 3 years in very preterm infants

J Pediatr. 2004 Nov;145(5):588-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2004.06.056.


Objectives: Low superior vena cava (SVC) flow is common in the first hours after very preterm birth and has a strong association with subsequent periventricular/intraventricular hemorrhage. We report the neurodevelopmental outcome at 3 years of age of very preterm babies who had serial echocardiographic studies, including measures of SVC flow, during the first 48 hours after birth.

Study design: A prospective observational study was performed on a cohort of 126 babies (<30 weeks), 103 of whom survived to discharge. Neurodevelopmental follow-up data, which included abnormal developmental quotient, abnormal motor score, and cerebral palsy, were available for 93% of this cohort at 3 years of age. Relations between 3-year outcome and early hemodynamic measures and clinical parameters were explored.

Results: After controlling for confounding variables, average SVC flow over the first 24 hours of life was significantly associated with the primary outcome of death or survival with any disability (P=.004) and with the secondary outcome of abnormal developmental quotient (P = .006). A greater number of low SVC flow readings during the first 24 hours was significantly related to death and adverse developmental outcome, but the individual lowest SVC flow was not, suggesting the importance of duration of low SVC flow. After adjustment, there was no significant association between average mean blood pressure over the first 24 hours and abnormal developmental outcome, whereas the proportion of mean blood pressure readings less than the gestational age showed a trend toward an association with death and any disability.

Conclusions: Low early postnatal blood flow to the upper body and brain may be one factor in the causal pathway of impaired preterm neurodevelopmental outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Brain / growth & development
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Coronary Circulation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Male
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Ultrasonography
  • Vena Cava, Superior / diagnostic imaging
  • Vena Cava, Superior / physiopathology*