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Horm Res Paediatr. 2013;79(4):197-207. doi: 10.1159/000348517. Epub 2013 Apr 9.

Microstructural brain and multivoxel spectroscopy in very low birth weight infants related to insulin-like growth factor concentration and early growth.

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  • 1Pediatric Endocrinology Unit, Institute of Maternal and Child Research, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.



Very low birth weight (VLBW) children have higher risk of neurologic disabilities and growth factors are essential for brain maturation.


To assess whether there are differences in neurologic findings, psychometric parameters and microstructural brain morphology in 1-year-old VLBW infants versus term healthy controls and whether these differences are related to hormonal/growth changes.


Prospective anthropometry, prefeed venous blood sample [insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), insulin-like growth factor-II (IGF-II), leptin, glucose], neurologic and imaging assessment, at age 1 year in 34 VLBW infants (12 SGA; 10 M) and 10 healthy term controls (5 M).


IGF-I concentrations at 1 month of corrected age were 20% lower in SGA versus appropriate for gestational age VLBW (p < 0.02). Gray and white matter volume and fractional anisotropy in 15/27 regions were decreased (p < 0.001). Abnormal spectroscopy was observed in 4 zones in VLBW versus term controls (p < 0.001). Some of these changes were associated with different periods of first-year growth and IGF-I/IGF-II, leptin and HOMA-IR.


VLBW infants show differences in brain volumes and microstructural brain morphology as compared to term controls, changes related to circulating growth factor and anthropometry changes in the first year. This apparent reorganization of the developing brain offers a unique opportunity to investigate the relationship between changes in cortical anatomy, cognitive and social impairments and periods of early growth.

Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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