Objective: Little information is available on long-term neurodevelopmental outcome of preterm infants with unilateral cerebral lesions detected by neonatal cranial ultrasound. This study aims to investigate the long-term outcome in a cohort of very preterm infants with unilateral cerebral lesions acquired in the perinatal period.
Methods: A prospective cohort study of 668 preterm infants (<33 weeks gestation; birth years 1985-1991) at a single tertiary perinatal centre in the UK. All infants had serial cranial ultrasound examination in the neonatal period. Outcome was assessed at age 8 years with the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC-R), Test of Visuo-motor Integration (VMI) and the Test of Motor Impairment (TOMI).
Results: Of the 668 infants, 369 infants had normal ultrasound scans. Two hundred and ninety nine children had bilateral parenchymal or non-parenchymal lesions (57 left-sided, 41 right-sided, 201 bilateral). Five hundred and thirty four (79%) children attended follow-up at age 8 years. Mean Full Scale IQ (FSIQ) was 101 (SD+/-16), 93 (SD+/-17), 102 (SD+/-17) and 91 (SD+/-21) for normal, left-sided, right-sided and bilateral lesion groups respectively. In all groups verbal IQ (VIQ) was higher than performance IQ (PIQ). Scores of FSIQ, VIQ and PIQ, VMI and TOMI were significantly different between the groups. After exclusion of children with parenchymal lesions, however, the difference was only significant for the TOMI scores. In all tests, children with left-sided lesions performed poorer than children with right-sided lesions.
Conclusions: In this cohort of preterm infants with unilateral cerebral lesions, verbal function was preserved over non-verbal function independently of the side of lesion. Furthermore, the results suggest that the neurodevelopmental outcome of children with left-sided lesions is less favourable than that of children with right-sided lesions.