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Cerebral Cortical Growth Predicts Cognitive Function

In premature infants, growth from 24-44 weeks PMA predicts later cognitive, not motor, function

THURSDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- After preterm birth, perinatal cortical growth between 24 to 44 weeks of postmenstrual age (PMA) is associated with global cognitive, but not motor functions in later childhood, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in Neurology.

Rachel Rathbone, from Imperial College in London, and colleagues investigated the correlation between preterm delivery brain growth between the PMA of 24 and 44 weeks and global neurocognitive ability in later childhood. Using 217 magnetic resonance images obtained between 24 and 44 weeks PMA, 82 infants without focal brain lesions born before 30 weeks PMA had their growth rates for cerebral volume and cortical surface area estimated. Cognitive abilities were assessed with the Griffiths Mental Developmental Scale at age 2 years, and with the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised (WPPSI-R), the Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment (NEPSY), and the Movement Assessment Battery for Children at age 6 years.

The investigators found that cortical growth correlated directly with the Griffiths Developmental Quotient (DQ), the WPPSI-R IQ, and with the NEPSY summary score, but not with the MABC score. There was also a direct correlation in exploration of subtests to attention, planning, memory, language, and numeric and conceptual abilities, but not for motor skills. The mean estimated decreases in cortical surface area at term-corrected age correlating with a one standard deviation reduction in test score was 7.0, 6.0, and 9.1 percent for DQ, WPPSI-R IQ, and NEPSY, respectively. The total brain volume growth was not associated with any of the test scores.

"The rate of cerebral cortical growth between 24 and 44 weeks PMA predicts global ability in later childhood, particularly complex cognitive functions but not motor functions," the authors write.

Two of the study authors disclosed a financial relationship with IXICO Limited. Several authors hold patents related to the study topic.

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