Published online August 31, 2007PEDIATRICS Vol. 120 No. 3 September 2007, pp. 584-593 (doi:10.1542/peds.2007-1041)
Does Cerebellar Injury in Premature Infants Contribute to the High Prevalence of Long-term Cognitive, Learning, and Behavioral Disability in Survivors?
Catherine Limperopoulos, PhDa,b, Haim Bassan, MDb, Kimberlee Gauvreau, ScDc, Richard L. Robertson, Jr, MDd, Nancy R. Sullivan, PhDe, Carol B. Benson, MDf, Lauren Avery, PhDg, Jane Stewart, MDh, Janet S. Soul MD, CM FRCPCb, Steven A. Ringer, MD, PhDi, Joseph J. Volpe, MDb and Adré J. duPlessis, MBChB, MPHb
OBJECTIVE. Although cerebellar hemorrhagic injury is increasingly diagnosed in infants who survive premature birth, its long-term neurodevelopmental impact is poorly defined. We sought to delineate the potential role of cerebellar hemorrhagic injury in the long-term disabilities of survivors of prematurity.
DESIGN. We compared neurodevelopmental outcome in 3 groups of premature infants (N = 86; 35 isolated cerebellar hemorrhagic injury, 35 age-matched controls, 16 cerebellar hemorrhagic injury plus supratentorial parenchymal injury). Subjects underwent formal neurologic examinations and a battery of standardized developmental, functional, and behavioral evaluations (mean age: 32.1 ± 11.1 months). Autism-screening questionnaires were completed.
RESULTS. Neurologic abnormalities were present in 66% of the isolated cerebellar hemorrhagic injury cases compared with 5% of the infants in the control group. Infants with isolated cerebellar hemorrhagic injury versus controls had significantly lower mean scores on all tested measures, including severe motor disabilities (48% vs 0%), expressive language (42% vs 0%), delayed receptive language (37% vs 0%), and cognitive deficits (40% vs 0%). Isolated cerebellar hemorrhagic injury was significantly associated with severe functional limitations in day-to-day activities. Significant differences were noted between cases of cerebellar hemorrhagic injury versus controls on autism screeners (37% vs 0%) and internalizing behavioral problems (34% vs 9%). Global developmental, functional, and social-behavioral deficits were more common and profound in preterm infants with injury to the vermis. Preterm infants with cerebellar hemorrhagic injury and supratentorial parenchymal injury were not at overall greater risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities, although neuromotor impairment was more severe.
CONCLUSIONS. Cerebellar hemorrhagic injury in preterm infants is associated with a high prevalence of long-term pervasive neurodevelopment disabilities and may play an important and underrecognized role in the cognitive, learning, and behavioral dysfunction known to affect survivors.