Correlates of Normal and Abnormal General Movements in Infancy and Long-Term Neurodevelopment of Preterm Infants: Insights from Functional Connectivity Studies at Term Equivalence
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Preterm infants born before 32 weeks gestation have increased risks for neurodevelopmental impairment at two years of age. How brain function differs between preterm infants with normal or impaired development is unknown. However, abnormal spontaneous motor behavior at 12–15 weeks post-term age is associated with neurodevelopmental impairment. We imaged brain blood oxygen level-dependent signals at term-equivalent age in 62 infants born at <32 weeks gestation and explored whether resting state functional connectivity (rsFC) differed with performances on the General Movement Assessment (GMA) at 12–15 weeks, and Bayley III scores at two years of corrected age. Infants with aberrant general movements exhibited decreased rsFC between the basal ganglia and regions in parietal and frontotemporal lobes. Infants with normal Bayley III cognitive scores exhibited increased rsFC between the basal ganglia and association cortices in parietal and occipital lobes compared with cognitively impaired children. Infants with normal motor scores exhibited increased rsFC between the basal ganglia and visual cortices, compared with children with motor impairment. Thus, the presence of abnormal general movements is associated with region-specific differences in rsFC at term. The association of abnormal long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes with decreased rsFC between basal ganglia and sub-score specific cortical regions may provide biomarkers of neurodevelopmental trajectory and outcome.