The association between fetal intracranial hemorrhages detected on MRI and neurodevelopment

Eur J Radiol. 2024 Apr:173:111380. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2024.111380. Epub 2024 Feb 17.


Purpose: Fetal intracranial hemorrhage is rarely identified in prenatal imaging. When identified, sparse data regarding neurodevelopmental outcomes worsens prenatal dilemmas. This MRI-based study aimed to assess prenatal characteristics and neurodevelopmental outcomes of fetal intracranial hemorrhage.

Methods: A historical cohort study which identified fetal intracranial hemorrhage in 22 individual fetal MRI scans, as part of the assessment of abnormal prenatal sonographic findings. Severity was graded by the grading system commonly used in neonates, with modifications. Prenatal data was collected. Neurodevelopmental outcome was assessed clinically by Vineland-II Adaptive Behavior Scales.

Results: Eight fetuses had intraventricular hemorrhage grade I-II, twelve had intraventricular hemorrhage grade III-IV, and two had infratentorial hemorrhage. The most prevalent risk factors were maternal chronic diseases and chronic use of medications. There was male predominance. Pregnancy was terminated in eleven cases. No surviving child who participated in the Vineland assessment had a grade IV hemorrhage. Vineland scores were normal in 9/11 children and moderately low in 2/11. The mean composite score of the cohort was not different from the mean score expected for age. Clinically, one child had hypotonia.

Conclusions: Prognosis for fetuses with ICH without parenchymal involvement is potentially more favorable than expected from the intraventricular hemorrhage grading-scale adopted from the preterm neonates. Parenchymal involvement may predict a worse outcome, but it is not the sole predicting feature. This information may be valuable during prenatal counseling.

Keywords: Fetal MRI; Intracranial hemorrhage; Intraventricular hemorrhage; Neurodevelopmental outcomes; Vineland-II Adaptive Behavior Scales.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnostic imaging
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases* / diagnostic imaging
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intracranial Hemorrhages* / diagnostic imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal