Neuroimaging results, short-term assessment of psychomotor development and the risk of autism spectrum disorder in extremely premature infants (≤28 GA) – a prospective cohort study (preliminary report).

Dev Period Med. 2018;22(1):39-48

Authors: Rutkowska M, Bekiesińska-Figatowska M, Kmita G, Terczyńska I, Polak K, Kalisiak M, Prażmowska D, Kiepura E, Szkudlińska-Pawlak S, Seroczyńska M, Helwich E

OBJECTIVE: Infants ≤28 GA are at particular risk of psychomotor and neurological developmental disorder. They also remain at a higher risk of developing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), characterized by persistent deficits in communication/social interactions and restricted, repetitive behaviors, activities and interests. Monitoring their development by a team of specialists (a neurologist, psychologist, psychiatrist) allows us to make an early diagnosis and to implement appropriate therapy. Neuroimaging studies during the neonatal period may be helpful in clarifying diagnosis and prognosis. Objective: The aim of the study was to search for the interrelation between the results of neuroimaging and the neurological, psychological and psychiatric evaluation at the age of 2.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Material and methods: Neonates born at ≤28 weeks between 01.06.2013 and 31.12.2015 and hospitalized at NICU were enrolled. We present the results of the first 12 children who have attained 2 years of corrected age and have undergone both neuroimaging, and neurological, psychological and psychiatric assessments. Transfontanel ultrasound was performed according to general standards, MRI between 38 and 42 weeks of corrected age. Neurological examination based on the Denver scale, ASD screening with use of the STAT test and psychological DSR assessment were performed at 2 years of corrected age.
RESULTS: Results: Median GA was 26 weeks and median weight 795 g. The ultrasound examination was normal in 9 cases (75%) and MRI in 4 (33%). Abnormalities in the cerebellum were the main additional information found in MRI as compared to US. Neurological examination was normal in 8 infants (67#37;), in 4 of whom neuroimaging was normal. In 4 (33%) infants the neurological examination was abnormal. Psychomotor development at an average level or above was found in seven (58#37;) children. In 4 of them neuroimaging was normal, whereas 3 had ventricular dilatation and haemorrhagic infarct. There were no abnormalities within the cerebellum in this group. In the remaining 5 children (42#37;) psychomotor development was rated as delayed. All of them had cerebellar haemorrhage. An increased risk of ASD was observed in 4 children who developed cerebellar hemorrhage.
CONCLUSION: Conclusions: 1. The use of MRI at a term-equivalent age may contribute to the prognosis of neurodevelopmental outcomes in extremely premature infants, allowing risk stratification and thus enhancing early monitoring of a child’s development and functional status 2. There is a clear tendency towards abnormal psychomotor development and positive screening for ASD to co-occur with abnormal MRI findings in the cerebellum.

PMID: 29641420 [PubMed – in process]

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