We sought to determine the mediating effects of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) biomarkers at term gestation on the relationship between perinatal illness severity and neurodevelopment.
The Clinical Risk Index for Babies—second edition (CRIB-II) was correlated with indices of brain maturation or injury and neurodevelopment at 2-year follow-up in infants born less than 32 weeks gestation. Using a counterfactual mediation analysis, associations between CRIB-II, MRI biomarkers, and neurodevelopment were confirmed, followed by an assessment of the mediating effects of MRI biomarkers on the relationship between CRIB-II and neurodevelopment.
CRIB-II correlated significantly with neurodevelopment and MRI biomarkers of brain injury or cortical maturation. Two MRI biomarkers, cortical surface area and global injury score, were associated with neurodevelopmental scores at follow-up and included in mediation analyses.
Biomarkers of cortical maturation or brain injury at term-equivalent age mediated a substantial portion of the risks conveyed by perinatal illness severity on neurodevelopmental outcomes at 2 years corrected age.
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The authors would like to express our gratitude to the families who participated in the study and the clinical and administrative staff in the High-risk Follow-up Clinic at Nationwide Children’s Hospital
This study was supported, in part, by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, United States (NIH Grants R01-NS094200 and R01-096037).
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Logan, J.W., Tan, J., Skalak, M. et al. Adverse effects of perinatal illness severity on neurodevelopment are partially mediated by early brain abnormalities in infants born very preterm. J Perinatol 41, 519–527 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41372-020-00854-1