Antenatal antecedents of a small head circumference at age 24-months post-term equivalent in a sample of infants born before the 28th post-menstrual week

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Child, Preschool; Cohort Studies; Female; Fetal Growth Retardation; Gestational Age; Head; Humans; Infant, Newborn; Infant, Premature; Male; Maternal Exposure; Microcephaly; Odds Ratio; Placenta; Placenta Diseases; Pregnancy; Risk Assessment; Risk Factors; Smoking


Obstetrics and Gynecology


BACKGROUND: Little is known about the antecedents of microcephaly in early childhood among children born at extremely low gestational age. AIM: To identify some of the antecedents of microcephaly at age two years among children born before the 28th week of gestation.

STUDY DESIGN: Observational cohort study.

SUBJECTS: 1004 infants born before the 28th week of gestation.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Head circumference Z-scores of <-2 and >or=-2, <-1.

RESULTS: Risk of microcephaly and a less severely restricted head circumference decreased monotonically with increasing gestational age. After adjusting for gestational age and other potential confounders, the risk of microcephaly at age 2 years was increased if microcephaly was present at birth [odds ratio: 8.8 ((95% confidence interval: 3.7, 21)], alpha hemolytic Streptococci were recovered from the placenta parenchyma [2.9 (1.2, 6.9)], the child was a boy [2.8 (1.6, 4.9)], and the child's mother was not married [2.5 (1.5, 4.3)]. Antecedents associated not with microcephaly, but with a less extreme reduction in head circumference were recovery of Propionibacterium sp from the placenta parenchyma [2.9 (1.5, 5.5)], tobacco exposure [2.0 (1.4, 3.0)], and increased syncytial knots in the placenta [2.0 (1.2, 3.2)].

CONCLUSIONS: Although microcephaly at birth predicts a small head circumference at 2 years among children born much before term, pregnancy and maternal characteristics provide supplemental information about the risk of a small head circumference years later. Two findings appear to be novel. Tobacco exposure during pregnancy, and organisms recovered from the placenta predict reduced head circumference at age two years.

DOI of Published Version



Early Hum Dev. 2010 Aug;86(8):515-21. Epub 2010 Jul 31. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Early human development


Francis Bednarek and Ellen Delpapa participated in this study as ELGAN Study Investigators.

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Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID