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AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2005 Nov-Dec;26(10):2685-90.

Growth rate of corpus callosum in very premature infants.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, New Zealand.



It is desirable to develop a bedside method for assessing cerebral development in the very premature infant to monitor the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving cerebral development. Our aim was to describe the growth trajectory of the corpus callosum (CC) on cranial sonography in very premature infants.


We recruited 100 very-low-birth-weight infants admitted to a single regional level III neonatal intensive care unit from November 1998 to November 2000. Cranial sonography images of the CC were obtained for 64 (32 boys) infants (mean gestational age, 28 weeks; range, 23-33 weeks) in the first week of life and at term equivalency. The growth rate of the CC was compared in the 64 study infants to the expected growth rate of 0.20-0.27 mm/day from antenatal data and correlated with clinical outcome at 2 years of age by using Mental Development Index (MDI) and Psychomotor Development Index (PDI).


The average growth rate of the CC was half of that expected from antenatal data. Mean growth rates were similar for all gestational ages (mean, 0.11 mm/day; range, 0.05-0.29; P = .4). The CC at term equivalency was longer for those in MDI class 2 (mean, 44.3 mm) compared with MDI class 3 (mean 40.2 mm; P = .003) as well as for PDI class 2 versus 3 (P = .017).


Measurement of the length of the CC at cranial sonography is reproducible. Those with poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes have a shorter CC at term equivalency. The CC grows at a much lower rate postnatally than in utero among very premature infants.

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