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Acta Paediatr. 2017 Jun;106(6):918-925. doi: 10.1111/apa.13829. Epub 2017 Apr 20.

Higher growth, fat and fat-free masses correlate with larger cerebellar volumes in preterm infants at term.

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Division of Neonatology, Institute for Maternal and Child Health - IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy.
Pediatric Radiology, Institute for Maternal and Child Health - IRCCS Burlo Garofolo, Trieste, Italy.



Smaller cerebellar volumes in very low-birthweight (VLBW) infants at term have been related to adverse cognitive outcomes, and this study evaluated whether these volumes were associated with a growth in body composition during hospital stays.


We prospectively recruited 42 VLBW infants from an Italian neonatal unit between January 2013 and August 2015. Cerebellar volumes and body composition were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and air-displacement plethysmography, respectively, at 40 weeks of gestational age and anthropometric and nutritional data were collected. We also included 20 term-born controls.


The mean gestational age and birthweight of the VLBW infants were 29.4 (±1.9) weeks and 1120 (±290) g. There was a positive correlation between cerebellar volumes and daily weight gain from birth to term (R2 = 0.26, p = 0.001), weight (R2 = 0.25, p = 0.001), length (R2 = 0.16, p = 0.01), fat mass (R2 = 0.15, p = 0.01) and fat-free mass at term (R2 = 0.20, p = 0.003). In multiple regression analysis, daily weight gain, mechanical ventilation and postconceptional age at MRI were independently associated with cerebellar volumes. Anthropometric data and cerebellar volumes were similar between VLBW and control infants.


Higher growth, higher fat mass and fat-free mass were associated with larger cerebellar volumes in VLBW infants at term.


Body composition; Cerebellum; Preterm growth; Preterm nutrition; Very low-birthweight

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