Effects of early nutrition and growth on brain volumes, white matter microstructure, and neurodevelopmental outcome in preterm newborns

Pediatr Res. 2018 Jan;83(1-1):102-110. doi: 10.1038/pr.2017.227. Epub 2017 Oct 25.


BackgroundThis study aimed to investigate the effect of nutrition and growth during the first 4 weeks after birth on cerebral volumes and white matter maturation at term equivalent age (TEA) and on neurodevelopmental outcome at 2 years' corrected age (CA), in preterm infants.MethodsOne hundred thirty-one infants born at a gestational age (GA) <31 weeks with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at TEA were studied. Cortical gray matter (CGM) volumes, basal ganglia and thalami (BGT) volumes, cerebellar volumes, and total brain volume (TBV) were computed. Fractional anisotropy (FA) in the posterior limb of internal capsule (PLIC) was obtained. Cognitive and motor scores were assessed at 2 years' CA.ResultsCumulative fat and enteral intakes were positively related to larger cerebellar and BGT volumes. Weight gain was associated with larger cerebellar, BGT, and CGM volume. Cumulative fat and caloric intake, and enteral intakes were positively associated with FA in the PLIC. Cumulative protein intake was positively associated with higher cognitive and motor scores (all P<0.05).ConclusionOur study demonstrated a positive association between nutrition, weight gain, and brain volumes. Moreover, we found a positive relationship between nutrition, white matter maturation at TEA, and neurodevelopment in infancy. These findings emphasize the importance of growth and nutrition with a balanced protein, fat, and caloric content for brain development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Basal Ganglia / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cognition
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / growth & development*
  • Gray Matter / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thalamus / diagnostic imaging
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Gain
  • White Matter / growth & development*
  • White Matter / physiology