Fetal brain growth and risk of postnatal white matter injury in critical congenital heart disease.
Published on Sep 1, 2021in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery5.209
· DOI :10.1016/J.JTCVS.2020.09.096
Abstract Objective To test the hypothesis that delayed brain development in fetuses with d-transposition of the great arteries or hypoplastic left heart syndrome heightens their postnatal susceptibility to acquired white matter injury. Methods This is a cohort study across 3 sites. Subjects underwent fetal (third trimester) and neonatal preoperative magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to measure total brain volume as a measure of brain maturity and the presence of acquired white matter injury after birth. White matter injury was categorized as no-mild or moderate-severe based on validated grading criteria. Comparisons were made between the injury groups. Results A total of 63 subjects were enrolled (d-transposition of the great arteries: 37; hypoplastic left heart syndrome: 26). White matter injury was present in 32.4% (n = 12) of d-transposition of the great arteries and 34.6% (n = 8) of those with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Overall total brain volume (taking into account fetal and neonatal scan) was significantly lower in those with postnatal moderate-severe white matter injury compared with no-mild white matter injury after adjusting for age at scan and site in d-transposition of the great arteries (coefficient: 14.8 mL, 95% confidence interval, −28.8 to −0.73, P = .04). The rate of change in total brain volume from fetal to postnatal life did not differ by injury group. In hypoplastic left heart syndrome, no association was noted between overall total brain volume and change in total brain volume with postnatal white matter injury. Conclusions Lower total brain volume beginning in late gestation is associated with increased risk of postnatal moderate-severe white matter injury in d-transposition of the great arteries but not hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Rate of brain growth was not a risk factor for white matter injury. The underlying fetal and perinatal physiology has different implications for postnatal risk of white matter injury.