OBJECTIVES: To describe the frequency and findings of cranial imaging in moderately preterm infants (born at 290/7-336/7 weeks of gestation) across centers, and to examine the association between abnormal imaging and clinical characteristics.
STUDY DESIGN: We used data from the Neonatal Research Network Moderately Preterm Registry, including the most severe early (≤28 days) and late (>28 days) cranial imaging. Stepwise logistic regression and CART analysis were performed after adjustment for gestational age, antenatal steroid use, and center.
RESULTS: Among 7021 infants, 4184 (60%) underwent cranial imaging. These infants had lower gestational ages and birth weights and higher rates of small for gestational age, outborn birth, cesarean delivery, neonatal resuscitation, and treatment with surfactant, compared with those without imaging (P < .0001). Imaging abnormalities noted in 15% of the infants included any intracranial hemorrhage (13.2%), grades 3-4 intracranial hemorrhage (1.7%), cystic periventricular leukomalacia (2.6%), and ventriculomegaly (6.6%). Histologic chorioamnionitis (OR, 1.47; 95% CI, 1.19-1.83), gestational age (0.95; 95% CI, 0.94-0.97), antenatal steroids (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.41-0.74), and cesarean delivery (OR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.53-0.81) were associated with abnormal imaging. The center with the highest rate of cranial imaging, compared with the lowest, had a higher risk of abnormal imaging (OR, 2.08; 95% CI, 1.10-3.92). On the classification and regression-tree model, cesarean delivery, center, antenatal steroids, and chorioamnionitis, in that order, predicted abnormal imaging.
CONCLUSION: Among the 60% of moderately preterm infants with cranial imaging, 15% had intracranial hemorrhage, cystic periventricular leukomalacia or late ventriculomegaly. Further correlation of imaging and long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes in moderately preterm infants is needed.