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Int J Dev Neurosci. 2007 Dec;25(8):523-30. Epub 2007 Sep 29.

Abnormal white matter appearance on term FLAIR predicts neuro-developmental outcome at 6 years old following preterm birth.

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Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Center for Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience, Kurume University School of Medicine, 67 Asahimachi, Kurume, Fukuoka 830-0011 Japan.


Preterm infants are at significant risk of neuro-developmental disorders at school-age. MRI is a potentially useful screening tool of such disorders. Using FLAIR imaging in the preterm infants at term, here we demonstrate that abnormal low-intensity signal in the white matter predicts the neuro-developmental outcome at 6 years.


Clinical factors associated with white matter appearance on MRI obtained at term were investigated in 210 preterm infants.


Low-intensity signal on FLAIR imaging was commonly observed (69%) at <2 months corrected-age. Its incidence correlated with corrected-age at scan, maternal pyrexia and cystic periventricular leukomalacia. Low-intensity signal on FLAIR significantly correlated with performance and full-scale developmental quotients, whereas diffuse high-intensity signal on T2-weighted imaging correlated only with the full-scale developmental quotient at 6 years (n = 75, WISC-R). FLAIR imaging, but not T2-weighted imaging, predicted mild neuro-developmental delay.


FLAIR appeared to detect subtle white matter injury related with neuro-developmental disorders at school-age, whereas T2-weighted imaging seemed to identify relatively more severe injury. FLAIR is a potentially sensitive screening tool that is readily available and easily interpretable.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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