Preterm infants are at risk for altered brain maturation resulting in neurodevelopmental impairments. Topographical analysis of high-density electroencephalogram during sleep matches underlying brain maturation. Using such an EEG mapping approach could identify preterm infants at risk early in life.
20 preterm (gestational age < 32 weeks) and 20 term-born infants (gestational age > 37 weeks) were recorded by 18-channel daytime sleep-EEG at term age (GA 40 weeks for preterm and 2-3 days after birth for term infants) and 3 months (corrected age for preterm infants).
Preterm infant's power spectrum at term age is immature, leveling off with term infants at 3 months of age. Topographical distribution of maximal power density however, reveals qualitative differences between the groups until 3 months of age. Preterm infants exhibit more temporal than central activation at term age and more occipital than central activation at 3 months of age. Moreover, being less mature at term age predicts being less mature at 3 months of age.
Topographical analysis of sleep EEG reveals changes in brain maturation between term and preterm infants early in life.
In future, automated analysis tools using topographical power distribution could help identify preterm infants at risk early in life.