3D ultrasound links heart defects, brain development

European researchers have used 3D ultrasound to measure cortical folding, which increases the surface area of the brain and its processing power, in fetuses with congenital heart defects.

Their primary interest was in finding out whether prenatal cardiovascular anomalies affect neurodevelopment. The team scanned the brains of 20 fetuses with congenital heart defects and 193 healthy controls at 22, 26 and 32 weeks gestational age.

“Fetal cortical folding can be evaluated reliably by measuring brain fissure depths,” the authors conclude. “Trajectories of cortical folding between 22 and 32 weeks gestational age seem to be influenced by congenital heart defects.”

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