Diliana Pecheva1, Hui Zhang2, Gareth Ball1, Mary Rutherford1, Nigel Kennea 3, Joseph V. Hajnal1, Daniel Alexander2, A. David Edwards1, and Serena J. Counsell1
1Centre for the Developing Brain, King's College London, London, United Kingdom, 2Department of Computer Science & Centre for Medical Image Computing, University College London, London, United Kingdom, 3Neonatal Unit, St Georges Hospital NHS Trust, London, United Kingdom
Preterm birth adversely affects brain development and diffuse white matter (WM) injury is often observed in preterm infants. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) allows us to study these effects in vivo. In this study tract-specific analysis, a novel method for large infant cohort analyses, was used to study the effects of age at scan and prematurity at birth on major WM tracts in 384 preterm infants. Our results show that age at scan is associated with widespread changes in DTI metrics across WM tracts, while the impact of prematurity at birth is more localized.