Objective(s): Investigate associations between 18 and 22-month corrected age hand function, adverse findings on serial cranial ultrasound (CUS) and near-term brain MRI (ntMRI), and Bayley-III scores in extremely preterm (EPT) toddlers.
Study design: Cohort analysis of Neonatal Research Network SUPPORT NEURO data. Associations between brain abnormalities, hand function, and Bayley-III scores were examined using chi-square and generalized linear mixed effect model analyses.
Results: A total of 433 children were included. Sixteen percent had hand function deficits; these were associated with late CUS (p < 0.001) abnormalities, white matter abnormality (WMA) on ntMRI (p < 0.001), and Bayley-III scores. Six percent had CP. Fourteen percent of children without and 50% of those with CP had hand function abnormalities.
Conclusions: Late CUS findings and severity of WMA were significantly associated with hand function deficits. Hand function deficits were nearly three times more common than CP and may be a useful marker of early brain insult and predictor of preterm birth effects on development.