Abnormal retinal optic nerve morphology in young adults after intrauterine growth restriction

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Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) is a recognized risk factor for neurologic deficits later in life. Abnormal fetal blood flow in the presence of fetal growth retardation helps to distinguish true fetal growth impairment from small but normally grown infants. The present study aimed to investigate the influence of IUGR with abnormal fetal blood flow on retinal optic nerve morphology at 18 y of age. A prospective study was performed in 19 subjects with IUGR [abnormal fetal aortic blood flow velocity; median birth weight deviation of -31% (-22 to -42%; median (range)] and in 23 subjects with a normal birth weight for gestational age [normal fetal aortic blood flow velocity; median birth weight deviation of -2% (-10 to 22%)]. All subjects were previously examined concerning minor neurologic dysfunction (MND) at 7 y of age. The ocular fundus was examined by ophthalmoscopy, and the optic nerve morphology was evaluated by digital image analysis. Decrease in neuroretinal rim area at 18 y of age was associated with increasing negative birth weight deviation (r = 0.71, p < 0.0001). The subjects with severe MND at 7 y had a reduced neuroretinal rim area [median (range), 1.57 mm(2) (1.37-1.78 mm(2))] compared with those with less severe MND [1.94 mm(2) (1.33-2.71 mm(2))] and with those with normal neurologic function [2.18 mm(2) (1.75-2.70 mm(2)); P < 0.05 and p < 0.0001, respectively]. A decrease in neuroretinal rim area reflects either a reduction in axonal volume or a decrease in the number of axons in the optic nerve. It is yet unclear whether this finding represents neuronal changes within other cerebral regions in subjects with IUGR.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pediatrics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-143
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch