Obstetrics and Gynaecology - Research Publications

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    Cerebral Arterial Asymmetries in the Neonate: Insight into the Pathogenesis of Stroke
    van Vuuren, AJ ; Saling, M ; Rogerson, S ; Anderson, P ; Cheong, J ; Solms, M (MDPI, 2022-03-01)
    Neonatal and adult strokes are more common in the left than in the right cerebral hemisphere in the middle cerebral arterial territory, and adult extracranial and intracranial vessels are systematically left-dominant. The aim of the research reported here was to determine whether the asymmetric vascular ground plan found in adults was present in healthy term neonates (n = 97). A new transcranial Doppler ultrasonography dual-view scanning protocol, with concurrent B-flow and pulsed wave imaging, acquired multivariate data on the neonatal middle cerebral arterial structure and function. This study documents for the first-time systematic asymmetries in the middle cerebral artery origin and distal trunk of healthy term neonates and identifies commensurately asymmetric hemodynamic vulnerabilities. A systematic leftward arterial dominance was found in the arterial caliber and cortically directed blood flow. The endothelial wall shear stress was also asymmetric across the midline and varied according to vessels’ geometry. We conclude that the arterial structure and blood supply in the brain are laterally asymmetric in newborns. Unfavorable shearing forces, which are a by-product of the arterial asymmetries described here, might contribute to a greater risk of cerebrovascular pathology in the left hemisphere.
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    Standardized Outcome Measures for Preterm and Hospitalized Neonates: An ICHOM Standard Set.
    Schouten, E ; Haupt, J ; Ramirez, J ; Sillett, N ; Nielsen, C ; Clarke, A ; Matkin, L ; Joseph, A ; Been, J ; Bolaños González, I ; Cheong, J ; Daly, M ; Kirpalani, H ; Mader, S ; Maria, A ; Matijasevich, A ; Mittal, R ; Mutesu-Kapembwa, K ; Vavouraki, E ; Webbe, J ; Wolke, D ; Zeitlin, J ; Flemmer, A (S. Karger AG, 2022)
    INTRODUCTION: Approximately, one in ten infants is born preterm or requires hospitalization at birth. These complications at birth have long-term consequences that can extend into childhood and adulthood. Timely detection of developmental delay through surveillance could enable tailored support for these babies and their families. However, the possibilities for follow-up are limited, especially in middle- and low-income countries, and the tools to do so are either not available or too expensive. A standardized and core set of outcomes for neonates, with feasible tools for evaluation and follow-up, could result in improving quality, enhance shared decision-making, and enable global benchmarking. METHODS: The International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM) convened an international working group, which was comprised of 14 health-care professionals (HCP) and 6 patient representatives in the field of neonatal care. An outcome set was developed using a three-round modified Delphi process, and it was endorsed through a patient representative-validation survey and an HCP survey. RESULTS: A literature review revealed 1,076 articles and 26 registries which were screened for meaningful outcomes, patient-reported outcome measures, clinical measures, and case mix variables. This resulted in a neonatal set with 21 core outcomes covering three domains (physical, social, and mental functioning) and 14 tools to assess these outcomes at three timepoints. DISCUSSION: This set can be implemented globally and it will allow comparison of outcomes across different settings and countries. The transparent consensus-driven development process which involved stakeholders and professionals from all over the world ensures global relevance.
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    Long-term expiratory airflow of infants born moderate-late preterm: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
    Du Berry, C ; Nesci, C ; Cheong, JLY ; FitzGerald, T ; Mainzer, R ; Ranganathan, S ; Doyle, LW ; Vrijlandt, EJLE ; Welsh, L (Elsevier BV, 2022-10)
    BACKGROUND: Moderate-late preterm (MLP; 32 to <37 weeks' gestation) birth is associated with reduced expiratory airflow during child, adolescent and adult years. However, some studies have reported only minimal airflow limitation and hence it is unclear if clinical assessment in later life is warranted. Our aim was to compare maximal expiratory airflow in children and adults born MLP with term-born controls, and with expected norms. METHODS: We systematically reviewed studies reporting z-scores for spirometric indices (forced expired volume in 1 second [FEV1], forced vital capacity [FVC], FEV1/FVC ratio and forced expiratory flow at 25-75% of FVC [FEF25-75%]) from participants born MLP aged five years or older, with or without a term-born control group from 4 databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, Embase, Emcare). Publications were searched for between the 22nd of September 2021 to the 29th of September 2021. A meta-analysis of eligible studies was conducted using a random effects model. The study protocol was published in PROSPERO (CRD #42021281518). FINDINGS: We screened 4970 articles and identified 18 relevant studies, 15 of which were eligible for meta-analysis (8 with term-born controls and 7 without). Compared with controls, MLP participants had lower z-scores (mean difference [95% confidence interval] I2) for FEV1: -0.22 [-0.35, -0.09] 49.3%, FVC: -0.23 [-0.4, -0.06] 71.8%, FEV1/FVC: -0.11 [-0.20 to -0.03] 9.3% and FEF25-75%: -0.27 [-0.41 to -0.12] 21.9%. Participants born MLP also had lower z-scores, on average, when compared with a z-score of 0 (mean [95% CI] I2) for FEV1: -0.26 [-0.40 to -0.11] 85.2%, FVC: -0.18 [-0.34 to -0.02] 88.3%, FEV1/FVC: -0.24 [-0.43 to -0.05] 90.5% and FEF25-75%: -0.33 [-0.54 to -0.20] 94.7%. INTERPRETATION: Those born MLP had worse expiratory airflows than those born at term, and compared with norms, although reductions were modest. Clinicians should be aware that children and adults born MLP may be at higher risk of obstructive lung disease compared with term-born peers. FUNDING: This work is supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (Centre of Research Excellence #1153176, Project grant #1161304); Medical Research Future Fund (Career Development Fellowship to J.L.Y Cheong #1141354) and from the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Support Programme. C. Du Berry's PhD candidature is supported by the Melbourne Research Scholarship and the Centre of Research Excellence in Newborn Medicine.
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    Cardiac cycle: an observational/interventional study protocol to characterise cardiopulmonary function and evaluate a home-based cycling program in children and adolescents born extremely preterm
    Clarke, MM ; Willis, CE ; Cheong, JLY ; Cheung, MMH ; Mynard, JP (BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, 2022-07-01)
    INTRODUCTION: Extremely preterm (EP)/extremely low birthweight (ELBW) individuals may have an increased risk for adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Compared with term-born controls, these individuals have poorer lung function and reduced exercise capacity. Exercise interventions play an important role in reducing cardiopulmonary risk, however their use in EP/ELBW cohorts is unknown. This study, cardiac cycle, aims to characterise the cardiopulmonary system of children and adolescents who were born EP compared with those born at term, following acute and chronic exercise bouts. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The single-centre study comprises a home-based exercise intervention, with physiological characterisation at baseline and after completion of the intervention. Fifty-eight children and adolescents aged 10-18 years who were born EP and/or with ELBW will be recruited. Cardiopulmonary function assessed via measures of blood pressure, arterial stiffness, capillary density, peak oxygen consumption, lung clearance indexes and ventricular structure/function, will be compared with 58 age-matched and sex-matched term-born controls at baseline and post intervention. The intervention will consist of a 10-week stationary cycling programme, utilising Zwift technology. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study is approved by the Ethics Committee of the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne under HREC2019.053. Results will be disseminated via peer-reviewed journal regardless of outcome. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: 12619000539134, ANZCTR.
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    Brain tissue microstructural and free-water composition 13 years after very preterm birth
    Kelly, C ; Dhollander, T ; Harding, IH ; Khan, W ; Beare, R ; Cheong, JLY ; Doyle, LW ; Seal, M ; Thompson, DK ; Inder, TE ; Anderson, PJ (ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE, 2022-07-01)
    There have been many studies demonstrating children born very preterm exhibit brain white matter microstructural alterations, which have been related to neurodevelopmental difficulties. These prior studies have often been based on diffusion MRI modelling and analysis techniques, which commonly focussed on white matter microstructural properties in children born very preterm. However, there have been relatively fewer studies investigating the free-water content of the white matter, and also the microstructure and free-water content of the cortical grey matter, in children born very preterm. These biophysical properties of the brain change rapidly during fetal and neonatal brain development, and therefore such properties are likely also adversely affected by very preterm birth. In this study, we investigated the relationship of very preterm birth (<30 weeks' gestation) to both white matter and cortical grey matter microstructure and free-water content in childhood using advanced diffusion MRI analyses. A total of 130 very preterm participants and 45 full-term control participants underwent diffusion MRI at age 13 years. Diffusion tissue signal fractions derived by Single-Shell 3-Tissue Constrained Spherical Deconvolution were used to investigate brain tissue microstructural and free-water composition. The tissue microstructural and free-water composition metrics were analysed using a voxel-based analysis and cortical region-of-interest analysis approach. Very preterm 13-year-olds exhibited reduced white matter microstructural density and increased free-water content across widespread regions of the white matter compared with controls. Additionally, very preterm 13-year-olds exhibited reduced microstructural density and increased free-water content in specific temporal, frontal, occipital and cingulate cortical regions. These brain tissue composition alterations were strongly associated with cerebral white matter abnormalities identified in the neonatal period, and concurrent adverse cognitive and motor outcomes in very preterm children. The findings demonstrate brain microstructural and free-water alterations up to thirteen years from neonatal brain abnormalities in very preterm children that relate to adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes.
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    Investigating brain structural maturation in children and adolescents born very preterm using the brain age framework
    Kelly, C ; Ball, G ; Matthews, LG ; Cheong, JL ; Doyle, LW ; Inder, TE ; Thompson, DK ; Anderson, PJ (ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE, 2021-12-18)
    Very preterm (VP) birth is associated with an increased risk for later neurodevelopmental and behavioural challenges. Although the neurobiological underpinnings of such challenges continue to be explored, previous studies have reported brain volume and morphology alterations in children and adolescents born VP compared with full-term (FT)-born controls. How these alterations relate to the trajectory of brain maturation, with potential implications for later brain ageing, remains unclear. In this longitudinal study, we investigate the relationship between VP birth and brain development during childhood and adolescence. We construct a normative 'brain age' model to predict age over childhood and adolescence based on measures of brain cortical and subcortical volumes and cortical morphology from structural MRI of a dataset of typically developing children aged 3-21 years (n = 768). Using this model, we examined deviations from normative brain development in a separate dataset of children and adolescents born VP (<30 weeks' gestation) at two timepoints (ages 7 and 13 years) compared with FT-born controls (120 VP and 29 FT children at age 7 years; 140 VP and 47 FT children at age 13 years). Brain age delta (brain-predicted age minus chronological age) was, on average, higher in the VP group at both timepoints compared with controls, however this difference had a small to medium effect size and was not statistically significant. Variance in brain age delta was higher in the VP group compared with controls; this difference was significant at the 13-year timepoint. Within the VP group, there was little evidence of associations between brain age delta and perinatal risk factors or cognitive and motor outcomes. Under the brain age framework, our results may suggest that children and adolescents born VP have similar brain structural developmental trajectories to term-born peers between 7 and 13 years of age.
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    Mathematical performance in childhood and early adult outcomes after very preterm birth: an individual participant data meta-analysis
    Jaekel, J ; Anderson, PJ ; Bartmann, P ; Cheong, JLY ; Doyle, LW ; Hack, M ; Johnson, S ; Marlow, N ; Saigal, S ; Schmidt, L ; Sullivan, MC ; Wolke, D (WILEY, 2021-12-15)
    AIM: To investigate the strength of the independent associations of mathematics performance in children born very preterm (<32wks' gestation or <1500g birthweight) with attending postsecondary education and their current employment status in young adulthood. METHOD: We harmonized data from six very preterm birth cohorts from five different countries and carried out one-stage individual participant data meta-analyses (n=954, 52% female) using mixed effects logistic regression models. Mathematics scores at 8 to 11 years of age were z-standardized using contemporary cohort-specific controls. Outcomes included any postsecondary education, and employment/education status in young adulthood. All models were adjusted for year of birth, gestational age, sex, maternal education, and IQ in childhood. RESULTS: Higher mathematics performance in childhood was independently associated with having attended any postsecondary education (odds ratio [OR] per SD increase in mathematics z-score: 1.36 [95% confidence interval {CI}: 1.03, 1.79]) but not with current employment/education status (OR 1.14 per SD increase [95% CI: 0.87, 1.48]). INTERPRETATION: Among populations born very preterm, childhood mathematics performance is important for adult educational attainment, but not for employment status.
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    Effect of Treatment of Clinical Seizures vs Electrographic Seizures in Full-Term and Near-Term Neonates A Randomized Clinical Trial
    Hunt, RW ; Liley, HG ; Wagh, D ; Schembri, R ; Lee, KJ ; Shearman, AD ; Francis-Pester, S ; DeWaal, K ; Cheong, JYL ; Olischar, M ; Badawi, N ; Wong, FY ; Osborn, DA ; Rajadurai, VS ; Dargaville, PA ; Headley, B ; Wright, I ; Colditz, PB (AMER MEDICAL ASSOC, 2021-12-17)
    IMPORTANCE: Seizures in the neonatal period are associated with increased mortality and morbidity. Bedside amplitude-integrated electroencephalography (aEEG) has facilitated the detection of electrographic seizures; however, whether these seizures should be treated remains uncertain. OBJECTIVE: To determine if the active management of electrographic and clinical seizures in encephalopathic term or near-term neonates improves survival free of severe disability at 2 years of age compared with only treating clinically detected seizures. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This randomized clinical trial was conducted in tertiary newborn intensive care units recruited from 2012 to 2016 and followed up until 2 years of age. Participants included neonates with encephalopathy at 35 weeks' gestation or more and younger than 48 hours old. Data analysis was completed in April 2021. INTERVENTIONS: Randomization was to an electrographic seizure group (ESG) in which seizures detected on aEEG were treated in addition to clinical seizures or a clinical seizure group (CSG) in which only seizures detected clinically were treated. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Primary outcome was death or severe disability at 2 years, defined as scores in any developmental domain more than 2 SD below the Australian mean assessed with Bayley Scales of Neonate and Toddler Development, 3rd ed (BSID-III), or the presence of cerebral palsy, blindness, or deafness. Secondary outcomes included magnetic resonance imaging brain injury score at 5 to 14 days, time to full suck feeds, and individual domain scores on BSID-III at 2 years. RESULTS: Of 212 randomized neonates, the mean (SD) gestational age was 39.2 (1.7) weeks and 122 (58%) were male; 152 (72%) had moderate to severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and 147 (84%) had electrographic seizures. A total of 86 neonates were included in the ESG group and 86 were included in the CSG group. Ten of 86 (9%) neonates in the ESG and 4 of 86 (4%) in the CSG died before the 2-year assessment. The odds of the primary outcome were not significantly different in the ESG group compared with the CSG group (ESG, 38 of 86 [44%] vs CSG, 27 of 86 [31%]; odds ratio [OR], 1.83; 95% CI, 0.96 to 3.49; P = .14). There was also no significant difference in those with HIE (OR, 1.77; 95% CI, 0.84 to 3.73; P = .26). There was evidence that cognitive outcomes were worse in the ESG (mean [SD] scores, ESG: 97.4 [17.7] vs CSG: 103.8 [17.3]; mean difference, -6.5 [95% CI, -1.2 to -11.8]; P = .01). There was little evidence of a difference in secondary outcomes, including time to suck feeds, seizure burden, or brain injury score. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Treating electrographic and clinical seizures with currently used anticonvulsants did not significantly reduce the rate of death or disability at 2 years in a heterogeneous group of neonates with seizures. TRIAL REGISTRATION: http://anzctr.org.au Identifier: ACTRN12611000327987.
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    ADHD symptoms and diagnosis in adult preterms: systematic review, IPD meta-analysis, and register-linkage study
    Robinson, R ; Girchenko, P ; Pulakka, A ; Heinonen, K ; Lahdepuro, A ; Lahti-Pulkkinen, M ; Hovi, P ; Tikanmaki, M ; Bartmann, P ; Lano, A ; Doyle, LW ; Anderson, PJ ; Cheong, JLY ; Darlow, BA ; Woodward, LJ ; Horwood, LJ ; Indredavik, MS ; Evensen, KA ; Marlow, N ; Johnson, S ; de Mendonca, MG ; Kajantie, E ; Wolke, D ; Raikkonen, K (SPRINGERNATURE, 2022-01-07)
    BACKGROUND: This study examined differences in ADHD symptoms and diagnosis between preterm and term-born adults (≥18 years), and tested if ADHD is related to gestational age, birth weight, multiple births, or neonatal complications in preterm borns. METHODS: (1) A systematic review compared ADHD symptom self-reports and diagnosis between preterm and term-born adults published in PubMed, Web of Science, and PROQUEST until April 2021; (2) a one-stage Individual Participant Data(IPD) meta-analysis (n = 1385 preterm, n = 1633 term; born 1978-1995) examined differences in self-reported ADHD symptoms[age 18-36 years]; and (3) a population-based register-linkage study of all live births in Finland (01/01/1987-31/12/1998; n = 37538 preterm, n = 691,616 term) examined ADHD diagnosis risk in adulthood (≥18 years) until 31/12/2016. RESULTS: Systematic review results were conflicting. In the IPD meta-analysis, ADHD symptoms levels were similar across groups (mean z-score difference 0.00;95% confidence interval [95% CI] -0.07, 0.07). Whereas in the register-linkage study, adults born preterm had a higher relative risk (RR) for ADHD diagnosis compared to term controls (RR = 1.26, 95% CI 1.12, 1.41, p < 0.001). Among preterms, as gestation length (RR = 0.93, 95% CI 0.89, 0.97, p < 0.001) and SD birth weight z-score (RR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.80, 0.97, p < 0.001) increased, ADHD risk decreased. CONCLUSIONS: While preterm adults may not report higher levels of ADHD symptoms, their risk of ADHD diagnosis in adulthood is higher. IMPACT: Preterm-born adults do not self-report higher levels of ADHD symptoms, yet are more likely to receive an ADHD diagnosis in adulthood compared to term-borns. Previous evidence has consisted of limited sample sizes of adults and used different methods with inconsistent findings. This study assessed adult self-reported symptoms across 8 harmonized cohorts and contrasted the findings with diagnosed ADHD in a population-based register-linkage study. Preterm-born adults may not self-report increased ADHD symptoms. However, they have a higher risk of ADHD diagnosis, warranting preventive strategies and interventions to reduce the presentation of more severe ADHD symptomatology in adulthood.
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    Temporal changes in rates of active management and infant survival following live birth at 22-24 weeks' gestation in Victoria
    Boland, RA ; Cheong, JLY ; Stewart, MJ ; Doyle, LW (WILEY, 2021-02-16)
    BACKGROUND: Management of livebirths at 22-24 weeks' gestation in high-income countries varies widely and has changed over time. AIMS: Our aim was to determine how rates of active management and infant survival of livebirths at 22-24 weeks varied with perinatal variables known at birth, and over time in Victoria, Australia. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We conducted a population-based cohort study of all 22-24 weeks' gestation live births, free of lethal congenital anomalies in 2009-2017. Rates of active management and survival to one year of age were reported. 'Active management' was defined as receiving resuscitation at birth or nursery admission for intensive care. RESULTS: Over the nine-year period, there were 796 eligible live births. Overall, 438 (55%) were actively managed: 5% at 22 weeks, 45% at 23 weeks and 90% at 24 weeks' gestation, but rates of active management did not vary substantially over time. Of livebirths actively managed, 263 (60%) survived to one year: 0% at 22 weeks, 50% at 23 weeks and 66% at 24 weeks. Apart from gestational age, being born in a tertiary perinatal centre and increased size at birth were associated with survival in those actively managed, but sex and plurality were not. Survival rates of actively managed infants rose over time (adjusted odds ratio 1.09 per year; 95% CI 1.01-1.18; P = 0.03). CONCLUSIONS: Although active management rates did not change substantially over time in Victoria, an overall increase in infant survival was observed. With increasing gestational age, rates of active management and infant survival rapidly rose.