Associations of Newborn Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging with Long-Term Neurodevelopmental Impairments in Very Preterm Children

Peter J. Anderson, Karli Treyvaud, Jeffrey J. Neil, Jeanie L. Y. Cheong, Rodney W. Hunt, Deanne K Thompson, Katherine J Lee, Lex W. Doyle, Terrie E. Inder

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Objective: To determine the relationship between brain abnormalities on newborn magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and neurodevelopmental impairment at 7 years of age in very preterm children. Study design: A total of 223 very preterm infants (<30 weeks of gestation or <1250 g) born at Melbourne's Royal Women's Hospital had a brain MRI scan at term equivalent age. Scans were scored using a standardized system that assessed structural abnormality of cerebral white matter, cortical gray matter, deep gray matter, and cerebellum. Children were assessed at 7 years on measures of general intelligence, motor functioning, academic achievement, and behavior. Results: One hundred eighty-six very preterm children (83%) had both an MRI at term equivalent age and a 7-year follow-up assessment. Higher global brain, cerebral white matter, and deep gray matter abnormality scores were related to poorer intelligence quotient (IQ) (Ps < .01), spelling (Ps < .05), math computation (Ps < .01), and motor function (Ps < .001). Higher cerebellum abnormality scores were related to poorer IQ (P = .001), math computation (P = .018), and motor outcomes (P = .001). Perinatal, neonatal, and social confounders had little effect on the relationships between the MRI abnormality scores and outcomes. Moderate-severe global abnormality on newborn MRI was associated with a reduction in IQ (-6.9 points), math computation (-7.1 points), and motor (-1.9 points) scores independent of the other potential confounders. Conclusions: Structured evaluation of brain MRI at term equivalent is predictive of outcome at 7 years of age, independent of clinical and social factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-65.e1
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Brain imaging
  • Brain pathology
  • Outcome
  • Prematurity

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