Higher growth, fat and fat-free masses correlate with larger cerebellar volumes in preterm infants at term

Giulia Paviotti, Angela De Cunto, Floriana Zennaro, Giulia Boz, Laura Travan, Gabriele Cont, Jenny Bua, Sergio Demarini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


©2017 Foundation Acta Pædiatrica. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Aim: Smaller cerebellar volumes in very low-birthweight (VLBW) infants at term have been related to adverse cognitive outcomes, and this study evaluated whether these volumes were associated with a growth in body composition during hospital stays. Methods: We prospectively recruited 42 VLBW infants from an Italian neonatal unit between January 2013 and August 2015. Cerebellar volumes and body composition were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and air-displacement plethysmography, respectively, at 40 weeks of gestational age and anthropometric and nutritional data were collected. We also included 20 term-born controls. Results: The mean gestational age and birthweight of the VLBW infants were 29.4 (±1.9) weeks and 1120 (±290) g. There was a positive correlation between cerebellar volumes and daily weight gain from birth to term (R 2 = 0.26, p = 0.001), weight (R 2 = 0.25, p = 0.001), length (R 2 = 0.16, p = 0.01), fat mass (R 2 = 0.15, p = 0.01) and fat-free mass at term (R 2 = 0.20, p = 0.003). In multiple regression analysis, daily weight gain, mechanical ventilation and postconceptional age at MRI were independently associated with cerebellar volumes. Anthropometric data and cerebellar volumes were similar between VLBW and control infants. Conclusion: Higher growth, higher fat mass and fat-free mass were associated with larger cerebellar volumes in VLBW infants at term.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)918-925
Number of pages8
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Body composition
  • Cerebellum
  • Preterm growth
  • Preterm nutrition
  • Very low-birthweight


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