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J Pediatr. 2008 Aug;153(2):170-5, 175.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2008.02.033. Epub 2008 Apr 3.

Adverse neurodevelopment in preterm infants with postnatal sepsis or necrotizing enterocolitis is mediated by white matter abnormalities on magnetic resonance imaging at term.

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Department of Pediatrics, Washington University, St Louis, MO 63105, USA.



To test the hypothesis that the impact of postnatal sepsis/necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) on neurodevelopment may be mediated by white matter abnormality (WMA), which can be demonstrated with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


A prospective cohort of 192 unselected preterm infants (gestational age <30 weeks), who were evaluated for sepsis and NEC, underwent imaging at term-equivalent age and neurodevelopmental outcome at 2 years corrected age with the Bayley Scales of Infant Development.


Sixty-eight preterm (35%) infants had 100 episodes of confirmed sepsis, and 9 (5%) infants had confirmed NEC. Coagulase-negative staphylococci accounted for 73% (73/100) of the episodes of confirmed sepsis. Infants with sepsis/NEC had significantly more WMA on MRI at term compared with infants in the no-sepsis/NEC group. They also had poorer psychomotor development that persisted after adjusting for potential confounders but which became nonsignificant after adjusting for WMA.


Preterm infants with sepsis/NEC are at greater risk of motor impairment at 2 years, which appears to be mediated by WMA. These findings may assist in defining a neuroprotective target in preterm infants with sepsis/NEC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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