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whether neurological deficits are associated with structural anomalies
of the brain in very low birthweight (VLBW) infants with subsequent
learning disorders but without cerebral palsy, or whether other
factors, such as poor early growth, are responsible.
METHODS—Eighty seven VLBW infants and eight term controls who had been examined at school between the ages of 12 and 13 years, had cranial magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans at 15-17 years of age.
RESULTS—Thirty seven (42.5%) of the VLBW children had abnormalities reported on their scans (two porencephaly, 28 periventricular leucomalacia, 24 ventricular dilatation, and 15 thinning of the corpus callosum). No significant differences in intelligence quotient, motor clumsiness, or frequency of attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder were observed between those children with MRI lesions and those with normal scans. Quantitative measurements showed the VLBW infants had smaller brains, and a relatively smaller corpus callosum compared with controls. No association between brain measurements and school performance was observed among the VLBW infants.
CONCLUSIONS—The difficulties experienced by VLBW children at school are unlikely to be the result of perinatal brain injury, but they might to be attributable to the effects of poor postnatal growth.