Prediction of neurodevelopment and neuromotor trajectories in very preterm born children up to 11 years of age: PIPARI Study

(abstract of the doctoral dissertation)

link to the doctoral dissertation


Very preterm birth is a risk for brain injury and abnormal neurodevelopment. While the
incidence of cerebral palsy has decreased due to advances in perinatal and neonatal care, the rate of less severe neuromotor problems continues to be high in very prematurely born children. Neonatal brain imaging can aid in identifying children for closer follow-up and in providing parents information on developmental risks.


This thesis aimed to study the predictive value of structural brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at term age, serial neonatal cranial ultrasound (cUS), and structured neurological examinations during the longitudinal follow-up for the neurodevelopment of very preterm born children up to 11 years of age as a part of the PIPARI Study (The Development and Functioning of Very Low Birth Weight Infants from Infancy to School Age). A further aim was to describe the associations between regional brain volumes and long-term neuromotor profile.


The prospective follow-up comprised of the assessment of neurosensory development at 2 years of corrected age, cognitive development at 5 years of chronological age, and neuromotor development at 11 years of age.


Neonatal brain imaging and structured neurological examinations predicted neurodevelopment at all age-points. The combination of neurological examination and brain MRI or cUS improved the predictive value of neonatal brain imaging alone. Decreased brain volumes associated with poorer neuromotor performance. At the age of 11 years, the majority of the very preterm born children had age-appropriate neuromotor development and after-school sporting activities. Long-term clinical follow-up is recommended at least for all very preterm infants with major brain pathologies.