Cortical structural abnormalities in very preterm children at 7 years of age

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Abstract

We analyzed long-lasting alterations in brain morphometry associated with preterm birth using volumetric and surface-based analyses applied to children at age 7 years. Comparison of 24 children born very preterm (VPT) to 24 healthy term-born children revealed reductions in total cortical gray matter volume, white matter volume, cortical surface area and gyrification index. Regional cortical shape abnormalities in VPT children included the following: shallower anterior superior temporal sulci, smaller relative surface area in the inferior sensori-motor cortex and posterior superior temporal cortex, larger relative surface area and a cingulate sulcus that was shorter or more interrupted in medial frontoparietal cortex. These findings indicate a complex pattern of regional vulnerabilities in brain development that may contribute to the diverse and long-lasting neurobehavioral consequences that can occur after very premature birth.

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