Background: Extremely-low-birth-weight (ELBW) children without severe brain injury or CP are at high risk of developing deficits within cognition, attention, behavior and motor function. Assessing the quality of an infant's spontaneous motor-repertoire included in Prechtl's General-Movement-Assessment (GMA) has been shown to relate to later motor and cognitive functioning in preterm children without CP.
Aims: To investigate functional outcome and cerebral MRI morphometry at 10 years in ELBW children without CP compared to healthy controls and to examine any relationship with the quality of infant-motor-repertoire included in the GMA.
Study design: A cohort-study-design.
Subjects: 31 ELBW children (mean birth-weight: 773 g, SD 146, mean gestational age 26.1 weeks, SD 1.8) and 33 term-born, age-matched controls.
Outcome measures: GMA was performed in ELBW children at 3 months corrected age. At 10 years the children underwent comprehensive motor, cognitive, behavioral assessments and cerebral MRI.
Results: The non-CP ELBW children had similar full-IQ but poorer working memory, poorer motor skills, and more attentional and behavioral problems compared to controls. On cerebral MRI reduced volumes of globus pallidus, cerebellar white matter and posterior corpus callosum were found. Cortical surface-area was reduced in temporal, parietal and anterior-medial-frontal areas. Poorer test-results and reduced brain volumes were mainly found in ELBW children with fidgety movements combined with abnormal motor-repertoire in infancy.
Conclusion: Non-CP ELBW children have poorer functional outcomes, reduced brain volumes and cortical surface-area compared with term-born controls at 10 years. ELBW children with abnormal infant motor-repertoire seem to be at increased risk of later functional deficits and brain pathology.
Keywords: Brain pathology; Cognition; General Movement Assessment; Neurodevelopment; Preterm.
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