Aims: Brain abnormalities are common in preterm infants and can be reliably detected by magnetic resonance (MR) imaging at term equivalent age. The aim of the present study was to acquire population based data on brain abnormalities in extremely low gestational age (ELGA) infants from the Stockholm region and to correlate the MR findings to perinatal data, in order to identify risk factors.
Methods: All infants with gestational age <27 weeks, born in the Stockholm region between January 2004 and August 2005, were scanned on a 1.5 T MR system at term equivalent age. Images were analysed using a previously established scoring system for grey and white matter abnormalities.
Results: No or only mild white matter abnormalities were observed in 82% and moderate to severe white matter abnormalities in 18% of infants. The Clinical Risk Index for Babies (CRIB II) score, use of inotropes, the presence of high-grade intraventricular haemorrhages and posthaemorrhagic ventricular dilatation were associated with white matter abnormalities.
Conclusion: The incidence of moderate to severe white matter abnormalities in a population-based cohort of ELGA infants from the Stockholm region was 18%. To examine the clinical relevance of these promising results, neurodevelopmental follow up at 30 month corrected age, is ongoing.