Neonatal basal ganglia and thalamic volumes: very preterm birth and 7-year neurodevelopmental outcomes

Pediatr Res. 2017 Dec;82(6):970-978. doi: 10.1038/pr.2017.161. Epub 2017 Aug 30.


BackgroundThis study aims to (i) compare volumes of individual basal ganglia nuclei (caudate nucleus, pallidum, and putamen) and the thalamus between very preterm (VP) and term-born infants at term-equivalent age; (ii) explore neonatal basal ganglia and thalamic volume relationships with 7-year neurodevelopmental outcomes, and whether these relationships differed between VP and term-born children.Methods210 VP (<30 weeks' gestational age) and 39 term-born (≥37 weeks' gestational age) infants underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging at term-equivalent age, and deep gray matter volumes of interest were automatically generated. 186 VP and 37 term-born children were assessed for a range of neurodevelopmental measures at age 7 years.ResultsAll deep gray matter structures examined were smaller in VP infants compared with controls at term-equivalent age; ranging from (percentage mean difference (95% confidence intervals) -6.2% (-10.2%, -2.2%) for the putamen, to -9.5% (-13.9%, -5.1%) for the caudate nucleus. Neonatal basal ganglia and thalamic volumes were positively related to motor, intelligence quotient, and academic outcomes at age 7 years, with mostly similar relationships in the VP and control groups.ConclusionVP birth results in smaller basal ganglia and thalamic volumes at term-equivalent age, and these smaller volumes are related to a range of 7-year neurodevelopmental deficits in VP children.

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / anatomy & histology*
  • Central Nervous System / diagnostic imaging
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Extremely Premature
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Thalamus / anatomy & histology*