Ultrasound measurement of the corpus callosum and neural development of premature infants*

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Length and thickness of 152 corpus callosa were measured in neonates within 24 hours of birth. Using ultrasonic diagnostic equipment with a neonatal brain-specific probe, corpus callosum length and thickness of the genu, body, and splenium were measured on the standard mid-sagittal plane, and the anteroposterior diameter of the genu was measured in the coronal plane. Results showed that corpus callosum length as well as thickness of the genu and splenium increased with tional age and birth weight, while other measures did not. These three factors on the standard mid-sagittal plane are therefore likely to be suitable for real-time evaluation of corpus callosum velopment in premature infants using cranial ultrasound. Further analysis revealed that thickness of the body and splenium and the anteroposterior diameter of the genu were greater in male infants than in female infants, suggesting that there are sex differences in corpus callosum size during the neonatal period. A second set of measurements were taken from 40 premature infants whose gestational age was 34 weeks or less. Corpus callosum measurements were corrected to a gestational age of 40 weeks, and infants were grouped for analysis depending on the outcome of a neonatal behavioral neurological assessment. Compared with infants with a normal neurological assessment, corpus callosum length and genu and splenium thicknesses were less in those with abnormalities, indicating that corpus callosum growth in premature infants is associated with neurobehavioral development during the early extrauterine stage.

Research Highlights

(1) A previous study measured corpus callosum length viewed from the mid-sagittal plane in premature infants using cranial ultrasound and verified that premature infants experienced delayed motor development that was associated with a low anterior-posterior growth rate of the corpus callosum at 2-6 weeks.

Research Highlights

(2) This study not only examined corpus callosum length in the mid-sagittal plane, but also investigated the thickness of the genu, body, and splenium, as well as the anteroposterior diameter of the genu viewed from the coronal plane, and explored the relationship between the physical development of these regions and the neurobehavioral development of premature infants. Effects of sex on corpus callosum size were also investigated.

Research Highlights

(3) Results confirmed that corpus callosum length, and thickness of the genu and splenium can be used to evaluate corpus callosum development in premature infants. Moreover, corpus callosum development in premature infants was associated with early neurobehavioral development of newborn infants. Monitoring corpus callosum development can be used to screen premature infants, predict the likelihood of future abnormal neurobehavioral development, and provides evidence for early intervention.

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