Background: Metabolic disturbances such as anoxia and hypoglycaemia are important in causing maldevelopment of the neonatal brain. While there have been some pathology studies of the effects of neonatal hypoglycaemia on brain development, reports of MRI findings in such infants have been rare.
Objectives: To describe the MRI findings in neurologically handicapped children who had suffered from neonatal hypoglycaemia and to evaluate the relationship between the neurological impairment and neonatal hypoglycaemia.
Materials and methods: We retrospectively evaluated the MRI findings in eight full-term infants with neonatal symptomatic hypoglycaemia who later exhibited neurological handicap. The age at which the MRI scans were obtained ranged from 9 months to 8 years 10 months (mean 4 years 1 month, median 4 years).
Results: The most striking findings were prolonged T1 weighting and T2 weighting in the parieto-occipital periventricular deep white matter in six patients, suggesting abnormal or delayed myelination. Dilatation of the lateral ventricles, especially of the trigones, was observed in five patients in whom the distance between the posterior horns of the lateral ventricles and the adjacent sulci was reduced. The volume of white matter relative to grey matter was reduced in two patients. In addition, four patients exhibited cerebral cortical atrophy, mainly in the occipital lobe.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that neonatal hypoglycaemia may cause delayed or abnormal myelination, especially in the parieto-occipital, periventricular, deep white matter, and may cause cerebral cortical atrophy, especially in the occipital lobe.