Although medical advances have increased survival rates in preterm babies, neurodevelopmental impairments frequently persist and can result in long-term cognitive impairments such as reduced language skills, attention problems, poor social skills, and lowered IQ scores. The detection of neural injury in the preterm infant is important for planning preventative, protective, and rehabilitative strategies.
A recent research review discussed diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) as an effective diagnostic tool for detecting white matter injury in preterm births. The white matter injury found using dMRI in preterm births was correlated to cognitive deficits at later ages, from adolescence to early adulthood. The researchers discussed the potential for using dMRI not only for the detection of white matter injury, but also as a tool for assessing the efficacy of clinical interventions used to reduce further injury and recover function.
Pandit AS, Ball G, Edwards AD, & Counsell SJ. Diffusion magnetic resonance imaging in preterm brain injury. Neuroradiology. (September 2013).