Growth of the Corpus Callosum in Adolescents Born Preterm

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Dec;161(12):1183-9. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.161.12.1183.


Objective: To examine the growth of the corpus callosum between adolescence and early adulthood in individuals who were born before 33 weeks' gestation (very preterm [VPT]) and its relation to neuropsychological function.

Design: A longitudinal cohort study of VPT individuals born between January 4, 1982, and December 29, 1984, and a term-born comparison group.

Setting: A long-term follow-up study into perinatal predictors of outcome after preterm birth at University College Hospital, London.

Participants: A total of 72 VPT and 34 term-born individuals were assessed in adolescence (aged 15 years) and in early adulthood (aged 19 years). Adult assessments took place between June 6, 2002, and October 23, 2004.

Main exposure: Birth before 33 weeks' gestation.

Outcome measure: The cross-sectional area of 4 segments of the corpus callosum, measured on the midsagittal slice of high-resolution structural magnetic resonance images in adolescence and young adulthood.

Results: Total corpus callosum size increased in term and VPT groups, but growth was much greater in the VPT group (13.4% in the VPT group vs 3.3% in the term group). There were significant associations between adult performance IQ and growth of anterior (P = .001), midposterior (P = .009), and posterior (P = .009) segments in the VPT group.

Conclusions: The corpus callosum grows dramatically in VPT adolescents, and this growth is associated with neuropsychological outcome. This may represent a delay of a normal maturational process in VPT individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Corpus Callosum / anatomy & histology
  • Corpus Callosum / growth & development*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Premature Birth*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychological Tests
  • Psychometrics
  • Reference Values
  • Time Factors