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Brain chemical ratios help predict developmental delays in preterm infants
Date:12/16/2013

OAK BROOK, Ill. Researchers have identified a potential biomarker for predicting whether a premature infant is at high risk for motor development problems, according to a study published online in the journal Radiology.

"We are living in an era in which survival of premature birth is more common," said Giles S. Kendall, Ph.D., consultant for the neonatal intensive care unit at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and honorary senior lecturer of neonatal neuroimaging and neuroprotection at the University College London. "However, these infants continue to be at risk for neurodevelopmental problems."

Patients in the study included 43 infants (24 male) born at less than 32 weeks gestation and admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the University College of London between 2007 and 2010. Dr. Kendall and his research team performed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and MR spectroscopy (MRS) exams on the infants at their approximate expected due dates (or term-equivalent age). MRS measures chemical levels in the brain.

The imaging studies were focused on the white matter of the brain, which is composed of nerve fibers that connect the functional centers of the brain.

"The white matter is especially fragile in the newborn and at risk for injury," Dr. Kendall explained.

One year later, 40 of the 43 infants were evaluated using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, which assess fine motor, gross motor and communication abilities. Of the 40 infants evaluated, 15 (38 percent) had abnormal composite motor scores and four (10 percent) showed cognitive impairment.

Statistical analysis of the MRS results and Bayley Scales scores revealed that the presence of two chemical ratiosincreased choline/creatine (Cho/Cr) and decreased N-acetylaspartate/choline (NAA/Cho)at birth were significantly correlated with developmental delays one year later.

"Low N-acetyl
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Contact: Linda Brooks
lbrooks@rsna.org
630-590-7762
Radiological Society of North America
Source:Eurekalert  

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