Relative maturation of peripheral and central regions of the human brainstem from preterm to term and the influence of preterm birth

Pediatr Res. 2009 Jun;65(6):657-62. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e31819ed5ae.


Relative maturation of peripheral and central regions of the neonatal brainstem was studied using brainstem auditory evoked responses in 174 healthy preterm infants (gestational age 30-36 wk). From 30- to 42-wk postconceptional age (PCA), I-III and III-V intervals shortened with increasing age. It was difficult to detect any apparent differences in maturational rate between the two intervals. However, III-V/I-III interval ratio decreased with increasing age, indicating that from preterm to term III-V interval shortens more than I-III interval. During term period (37- to 42-wk PCA), I-III interval was similar to term controls, but III-V interval was significantly longer and III-V/I-III interval ratio was significantly greater than controls at 37- to 38-wk PCA and 39-40 wk PCA and was the same as controls at 41-42 wk. Therefore, from 30- to 42-wk PCA maturation of central regions of the brainstem, reflected by III-V interval, is relatively faster than peripheral regions, reflected by I-III interval which seems to be already more mature than III-V interval before 30 wk. Maturation in central regions in preterm infants is relatively delayed at early term, but "catches-up" later, whereas peripheral regions already reach normal level of maturation at early term. Preterm birth slightly delays early maturation of central brainstem regions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Brain Stem* / anatomy & histology
  • Brain Stem* / embryology
  • Brain Stem* / growth & development
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth*
  • Regression Analysis