Magnetic resonance spectroscopy in preterm infants: association with neurodevelopmental outcomes

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Abstract

Objective

To compare magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) metabolite ratios in preterm infants at term-equivalent age with those in term infants and to evaluate the association between MRS metabolites and neurodevelopmental outcomes at 18 months corrected age in preterm infants.

Design

We studied infants born at a gestational age <37 weeks and weighing <1500 g during 2009–2013 using MRS at term-equivalent age. Infants with major brain abnormalities were excluded. The ratios of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) to creatine (Cre), NAA to choline-containing compounds (Cho) and Cho to Cre in the frontal white matter and thalamus were measured using multivoxel point-resolved proton spectroscopy sequence. Neurodevelopmental outcomes were assessed at 18 months corrected age.

Results

Thirty-three preterm infants and 16 term infants were enrolled in this study. Preterm infants with normal development at 18 months showed significantly lower NAA/Cho ratios in the frontal white matter than term infants. There were no differences in the Cre/Cho ratios between preterm and term infants. At 18 months corrected age, 9 preterm infants with a mild developmental delay showed significantly lower NAA/Cho ratios in the thalamus than 24 preterm infants with normal development.

Conclusions

Preterm infants at term-equivalent age showed reduced MRS metabolites (NAA/Cho) compared with term infants. Decreased NAA/Cho ratios in the thalamus were associated with neurodevelopmental delay at 18 months corrected age in preterm infants.

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