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Cortical Thickness and Behavior Abnormalities in Children Born Preterm
Published: Monday, July 30, 2012
Author: Leire Zubiaurre-Elorza et al.

by Leire Zubiaurre-Elorza, Sara Soria-Pastor, Carme Junque, Roser Sala-Llonch, Dolors Segarra, Nuria Bargallo, Alfons Macaya

Aim

To identify long-term effects of preterm birth and of periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) on cortical thickness (CTh). To study the relationship between CTh and cognitive-behavioral abnormalities.

Methods

We performed brain magnetic resonance imaging on 22 preterm children with PVL, 14 preterm children with no evidence of PVL and 22 full-term peers. T1-weighted images were analyzed with FreeSurfer software. All participants underwent cognitive and behavioral assessments by means of the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children-Fourth Edition (WISC-IV) and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL).

Results

We did not find global CTh differences between the groups. However, a thinner cortex was found in left postcentral, supramarginal, and caudal middle rostral gyri in preterm children with no evidence of PVL than in the full-term controls, while PVL preterm children showed thicker cortex in right pericalcarine and left rostral middle frontal areas than in preterm children with no evidence of PVL. In the PVL group, internalizing and externalizing scores correlated mainly with CTh in frontal areas. Attentional scores were found to be higher in PVL and correlated with CTh increments in right frontal areas.

Interpretation

The preterm group with no evidence of PVL, when compared with full-term children, showed evidence of a different pattern of regional thinning in the cortical gray matter. In turn, PVL preterm children exhibited atypical increases in CTh that may underlie their prevalent behavioral problems.

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