Zohra M. Ahmadzai1, Deanne K. Thompson1, 2, Peter J. Anderson1, 2, Jeanie Cheong, 13, Lex W. Doyle, 13
1Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; 2University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; 3Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
Smaller pituitary volumes may be a reflection of chronic hyperactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is associated with prematurity, stress, anxiety and depression. Pituitary volumes were measured on T1 images of 186 extremely preterm and 139 full term 18 year olds. Preterm subjects had significantly smaller pituitary volumes than full term subjects, and females had larger pituitary volumes than males. Pituitary volume was not associated with postnatal corticosteroid therapy or perinatal brain injury. Smaller pituitary volume is indicative of chronic HPA-axis hyperactivity, and may account for the neuropsychiatric morbidities observed in preterm adolescents.