Gareth Ball1, James P. Boardman1, 2, Daniel Rueckert3, Paul Aljabar3, Tomoki Arichi1, 4, Nazakat Merchant1,4, Ioannis S. Gousias1, A. David Edwards1, 4, Serena J. Counsell1
1Imperial College London & MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, London, United Kingdom; 2Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom; 3Department of Computing, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom; 4Division of Neonatology, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, United Kingdom
Preterm birth is a leading cause of cognitive impairment in childhood, and is associated with a spectrum of structural brain abnormalities but the nature and evolution of these developmental processes are poorly understood. Using multi-modal magnetic resonance image analysis we demonstrate a specific pattern of cerebral growth that is related linearly to gestational age at birth, and show that thalamic size is directly related to the integrity of developing white matter tracts. These findings confirm that diminished thalamic growth and alterations in white matter microstructure occur in parallel after premature birth, possibly representing downstream consequences of a common primary insult.