This study sought to compare cognitive and cerebral findings of magnetic resonance imaging in young adults with low birth weights and in a control group. One hundred thirteen of 173 (65%) eligible adults with birth weights <2000 g, and 100 of 170 (59%) controls, all without major disabilities, were examined at age 19 years. Cerebral 3.0 T magnetic resonance imaging was performed according to standardized protocols. Prorated intelligence quotient was estimated from two subtests of the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Ability, a word comprehension test, and matrices. Prominent lateral ventricles and loss of white matter, and thinning of the corpus callosum, were more common in the low birth weight group than in the control group (40% vs. 15%, respectively; odds ratio, 3.8; P < 0.001; and 31% vs. 7%, respectively; odds ratio, 6.0; P < 0.001). Low birth weight adults exhibited lower mean intelligence quotients (95 vs. 101, respectively; P < 0.001). Low birth weight adults face an increased risk of prominent ventricles, global loss of white matter, and thinning of the corpus callosum. Similar magnetic resonance imaging findings are not uncommon among healthy adults.
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