Isolated neonatal MRI punctate white matter lesions in very preterm neonates and quality of life at school age

C. Arberet, M. Proisy, J. L. Fausser, M. Curt, P. Bétrémieux, C. Tréguier, C. Rozel, P. Pladys* | JNPM 2017;

OBJECTIVE: To study the quality of life at school age of very preterm infants presenting isolated punctate periventricular white matter lesions (IPWL) on late-preterm or term magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
METHODS: In 1996–2000, 16 of the 131 very preterm neonates explored by MRI were found to have IPWL. At the age of 9–14, 12 children from the IPWL group were compared with 54 children born preterm but with a normal MRI (no lesion). Quality of life (Health Status Classification System Pre School questionnaire), school performance, and motor outcome were investigated.
RESULTS: Overall quality of life did not differ between the groups (classified as perfect in 2/12 of the IPWL vs 20/54 in the no-lesion). The sub-items mobility and dexterity differed significantly between the two groups, with impairment in the IPWL group (p < 0.001 and p < 0.05). This group also displayed higher levels of motor impairment: they began walking later [20(4) vs. 15(3) months), p < 0.01], had higher frequencies of cerebral palsy (6/12 vs. 2/54, p < 0.05), and dyspraxia (4/12 vs. 0/54, p < 0.001). The rate of grade retention did not differ between the groups (3/12 in the IPWL group vs. 17/54 in the no-lesions group) but, as expected, was higher than that of the French general population (17.4%) during the study period.
CONCLUSION: This long-term follow-up study detected no increase in the risk of subsequent cognitive impairment in very preterm infants with IPWL, but suggests that these children may have a significantly higher risk of dyspraxia, and motor impairment.

*Corresponding Author: 

Patrick Pladys, Pôle Femme Enfant, Service de pédiatrie, CHU Rennes, 16 Bd de Bulgarie, 35203 Rennes Cedex, France. Tel.: +33 2 99 26 59 86; Fax: +33 299 2667 31; E-mail: