Cerebral Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Children With Prenatal Drug Exposure: Clinically Useful?

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This study aimed to evaluate cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of children with prenatal drug exposure in a clinical context. A hospital-based cohort of 10- to 14-year-old children, prenatally exposed to alcohol, opioids, and polysubstances, and a group of sex- and age-matched controls were examined with cerebral MRI. Scans obtained from 34 exposed children and 40 controls were scored based on the presence and degree of pathology by an experienced pediatric neuroradiologist blinded to the participants’ background. Overall visual detectable MRI pathology was found in 35% of the exposed children and 33% of the controls (odds ratio = 1.08; 95% confidence interval = 0.36-3.25). No specific imaging pattern following prenatal drug exposure was seen by the means of simple visual analysis of cerebral MRI scans. Although cerebral MRI is feasible, it is probably of limited value in the clinical assessment of children with prenatal drug exposure.

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