Objective: To examine associations between brain white matter abnormalities, including diffuse excessive high signal intensities, detected on neonatal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with neurodevelopmental outcome at age 30 months.
Study design: This was a prospective, population-based study of infants born at <27 weeks gestation (n=117) undergoing conventional MRI at term equivalent age (n=107). At age 30 months corrected, 91 of the preterm infants (78%) and 85 term-born controls were assessed with the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition (BSID-III).
Results: Cerebral palsy (CP) was present in 7% of the preterm group. On the BSID-III, mean composite scores were 96±9.5 for the cognitive scale, 97±14 for language scales, and 103±15 for motor scales, all within the normal range for age. Compared with the term-born controls, however, the preterm infants did not perform as well on all 3 scales, also when MRI was normal. Significant associations were seen between moderate to severe white matter abnormalities and CP (P<.001). The presence of diffuse excessive high signal intensities was not associated with performance on the BSID-III or with CP.
Conclusion: This 3-year cohort of extremely preterm infants had low rates of major brain injury and impaired outcome. Neonatal MRI provides useful information, but this information needs to be treated with caution when predicting outcome.
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