Limited microstructural and connectivity deficits despite subcortical volume reductions in school-aged children born preterm with very low birth weight.
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNeuroImage 2015, Dec 20 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2015.12.029
Preterm birth and very low birth weight (VLBW, ≤ 1500 g) are worldwide problems that burden survivors with lifelong cognitive, psychological, and physical challenges. In this multimodal structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion MRI (dMRI) study, we investigated differences in subcortical brain volumes and white matter tract properties in children born preterm with VLBW compared to term-born controls (mean age = 8 years). Subcortical brain structure volumes and cortical thickness estimates were obtained, and fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD), and axial diffusivity (AD) were generated for 18 white matter tracts. We also assessed structural relationships between white matter tracts and cortical thickness of the tract endpoints. Compared to controls, the VLBW group had reduced volumes of thalamus, globus pallidus, corpus callosum, cerebral white matter, ventral diencephalon, and brain stem, while the ventricular system was larger in VLBW subjects, after controlling for age, sex, IQ, and estimated total intracranial volume. For the dMRI parameters, group differences were not significant at the whole-tract level, though pointwise analysis found shorter segments affected in forceps minor and left superior longitudinal fasciculus – temporal bundle. IQ did not correlate with subcortical volumes or dMRI measures in the VLBW group. While the deviations in subcortical volumes were substantial, there were few differences in dMRI measures between the two groups, which may reflect the influence of advances in perinatal care on white matter development.