Early Extra-Uterine Exposure Alters Regional Cerebellar Growth in Infants Born Preterm
26 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2018 First Look: Under Review
Objectives: To compare third trimester global and regional cerebellar volumetric growth at two time-points between very preterm (PT) infants and healthy gestational age-matched fetuses in the PT period and at term equivalent age (TEA). Study Design: Using a prospective study design, high resolution anatomic magnetic resonance images (MRI) were acquired in PT infants (gestational age at birth<32 weeks; birthweight<1500g) and healthy full-term controls. PT infants completed two MRIs, one as soon as medically stable and the other around TEA. Controls also completed two MRIs, one in utero (i.e. fetal MRI) and a postnatal MRI shortly after birth. The injury-free cerebellum of each participant was parcellated into 5 regions: left and right hemispheres, the anterior, neo and posterior vermis. Evidence of differences in regional volumes between term and pre-term infants matched for gestational age (GA) at the time of the first MRI were assessed using multiple linear regression. Results: We studied 76 subjects: 38 PT infants were matched to 38 healthy fetuses. At MRI-1, PT infants demonstrated decreased cerebellar hemispheric volumes and increased anterior, neo- and posterior vermian regional volumes when compared to healthy fetuses. At TEA, PT infants demonstrated a persistent increase in anterior, neo- and posterior vermian regional volumes but no longer showed reductions in cerebellar hemispheric volume. Only the neo-vermis volume demonstrated a significant negative association with birthweight, male gender and supratentorial injury. Conclusions: In the absence of demonstrable cerebellar parenchymal injury evident on conventional MRI, PT birth is associated with cerebellar growth alterations that are regionally- and temporally-specific.
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