Objectives To assess the association of brain tissue volumes at term-equivalent age (TEA) with long-term neurodevelopment.
Methods 108 preterm infants (median GA 28.6 weeks; 25.0–30.9 weeks) were prospectively studied at TEA (median 41.6 weeks PMA; 39.7–43.6). Volumes of eight different tissue types were quantified using an automatic segmentation method (Anbeek, PLOSOne2013)and related to neurodevelopmental outcome using cognitive (CCs), fine motor (FMss), and gross motor scaled scores (GMss) of the BSITD-III at two years corrected age, Griffiths Mental Development Scales (DQ) at age 3.5, and WPPSI at age 5.5. Corrections were made for PMA at scan, intracranial volume and maternal education.
Results Significant results are presented in the table. Both ventricular (Vent) and cortical grey matter volume (CoGM) were inversely related to all included subscales of the BSITD-III and DQ. However, the association at age 3.5 was lost after excluding infants with severe brain lesions (venous infarction, PHVD with neurosurgical intervention, and severe cerebellar haemorrhages). CoGM volume demonstrated a borderline significant inverse correlation with performal IQ at age 5.5 (coefficient-3.2;-6.6–0.08), that did not change after adjustment for severe brain lesions. Cerebellar volume was related to cognitive outcome at 2 and 3.5 years, but the association was mediated by cerebellar injury.
Conclusion Vent and CoGM volumes at TEA may serve as biomarkers for long-term neurodevelopmental outcome in preterm infants. The relationship between larger CoGM volumes and adverse neurodevelopment may reflect disturbances in white matter-CoGM boundaries and warrants further investigation.