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J Pediatr. 2010 Jun;156(6):896-901. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.12.052. Epub 2010 Mar 15.

Effects of gestational age and birth weight on brain volumes in healthy 9 year-old children.

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  • 1Department of Biological Psychology, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



To assess the effects of gestational age and birth weight on brain volumes in a population-based sample of normal developing children at the age of 9 years.


A total of 192 children from twin births were included in the analyses. Data on gestational age and birth weight were reported shortly after birth. Total brain, cerebellum, cerebrum, gray and white matter, and lateral ventricle volumes were assessed with structural magnetic resonance imaging. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-III was administered to assess general cognitive abilities. Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the effects of gestational age and birth weight on brain volumes.


Shorter gestational age was associated with a relatively smaller cerebellar volume (P = .002). This effect was independent of IQ scores. Lower birth weight was associated with lower IQ score (P = .03). Birth weight was not associated with brain volumes.


The effect of gestational age on cerebellar volume is not limited to children with very premature birth or very low birth weight, but is also present in children born >32 weeks of gestation and with birth weight >1500 g.

Copyright 2010 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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