Clinical Risk Factors for Punctate White Matter Lesions on Early Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Preterm Newborns

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Abstract

Objective

To identify clinical risk factors for punctate white matter lesions (PWML) on early magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 2 cohorts of newborns born extremely preterm in different neonatal centers.

Study design

A total of 250 newborns born preterm at less than 28 weeks of gestation (mean 26.4 ± 1.1 weeks) with an early MRI were identified from 2 neonatal centers, in Vancouver, Canada (cohort A, n = 100) and Utrecht, the Netherlands (cohort B, n = 150). Cohort A was imaged as part of a prospective research study and cohort B was imaged as part of routine clinical care. PWML were defined as cluster type foci of hyperintensity on T1-weighted imaging and were identified at a mean postmenstrual age of 31.1 (±1.9) weeks. Multivariable analysis was used to identify clinical factors predictive of PWML.

Results

Cluster type PWML were found in 47 newborns born extremely preterm (18.8%) and were more common in cohort A (32%) than in cohort B (10%). Newborns in cohort A generally were sicker than those in cohort B. Multivariable analyses revealed that greater birth weight (B = 0.002; P < .02), grade II-III intraventricular hemorrhage (B = 0.83; P < .02), and cohort A (B = 1.34; P < .0001) were independent predictors of PWML.

Conclusion

Several risk factors for PWML on early MRI were identified. The interaction among birth weight, intraventricular hemorrhage, and other aspects of postnatal illness as risk factors for PWML warrants further investigation in newborns born extremely preterm and may help to identify modifiable risk factors for PWML.

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