A study by Parikh, Lasky, Kennedy, McDavid, and Tyson (2013) explored various clinical antecedents of brain volume abnormalities in extremely low birth weight infants (ELBW). Preterm infants are associated with an exceptionally high rate of neurodevelopmental impairments. By using volumetric and diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the scientists examined a range of perinatal antecedent factors in a group of ELBW infants in order to better understand modifiable risk factors related to the abnormalities. Upon measuring brain volumes with the help of automatic tissue segmentation methods and correlating the data with total brain volumes and white matter hyperintensities adjusted for age, Parikh et al. (2013) discovered that ELBW infants’ regional brain volumes were noticeably lower than those of term newborns.
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Relative percentage difference for brain volumes was from -11 percent to -35.9 percent (Parikh et al., 2013). The following risk factors were clinically associated with the abnormalities: seizures, apnea/caffeine therapy, total prenatal nutrition (TPN) duration, and pulmonary hemorrhage (Parikh et al., 2013). Relative difference range for these factors was from -1.4 percent to -15 percent (Parikh et al., 2013). In addition, it was discovered that cerebral atrophy plays a major role in the reduction of total and regional brain volumes (Parikh et al., 2013). The findings of the study were consistent with the extant literature on brain volume abnormalities and helped to broaden understanding of clinical precursors of white matter hyperintensities. However, the researchers did not adjust their data for head size, which prevented them from discovering additional risk factors such as secondary atrophy (Parikh et al., 2013). Other limitations of the study were a low incidence of the antecedents and differences in magnetic field strengths for two groups of infants, which resulted in volumetric distortions.
Parikh, N., Lasky, R., Kennedy, K., McDavid, G., & Tyson, J. (2013). Perinatal factors and regional brain volume abnormalities at term in a cohort of extremely low birth weight infants. PLoS ONE, 8(5), 1-19.