Objective: To determine the neurodevelopmental outcome of prematurely born newborns with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities.
Study design: A total of 89 prematurely born newborns (median age 28 weeks postgestation) were studied with MRI when stable for transport to MRI (median age, 32 weeks postgestation); 50 newborns were studied again near term age (median age, 37 weeks). Neurodevelopmental outcome was determined at 18 months adjusted age (median) using the Mental Development Index (Bayley Scales Infant Development II) and a standardized neurologic exam.
Results: Of 86 neonatal survivors, outcome was normal in 51 (59%), borderline in 22 (26%), and abnormal in 13 (15%). Moderate/severe MRI abnormalities were common on the first (37%) and second (32%) scans. Abnormal outcome was associated with increasing severity of white matter injury, ventriculomegaly, and intraventricular hemorrhage on MRI, as well as moderate/severe abnormalities on the first (relative risk [RR] = 5.6; P = .002) and second MRI studies (RR = 5.3; P = .03). Neuromotor abnormalities on neurologic examination near term age (RR = 6.5; P = .04) and postnatal infection (RR = 4.0; P = .01) also increased the risk for abnormal neurodevelopmental outcome.
Conclusions: In premature newborns, brain abnormalities are common on MRI early in life and are associated with adverse neurodevelopmental outcome.