Comprehensive volumetric phenotyping of the neonatal brain in Down syndrome

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Down syndrome (DS) is the most common genetic cause of intellectual disability with a wide range of neurodevelopmental outcomes. To date, there have been very few in vivo neuroimaging studies of the neonatal brain in DS. In this study we used a cross-sectional sample of 493 preterm- to term-born control neonates from the developing Human Connectome Project to perform normative modeling of regional brain tissue volumes from 32 to 46 weeks postmenstrual age, accounting for sex and age variables. Deviation from the normative mean was quantified in 25 neonates with DS with postnatally confirmed karyotypes from the Early Brain Imaging in DS study. Here, we provide the first comprehensive volumetric phenotyping of the neonatal brain in DS, which is characterized by significantly reduced whole brain, cerebral white matter, and cerebellar volumes; reduced relative frontal and occipital lobar volumes, in contrast with enlarged relative temporal and parietal lobar volumes; enlarged relative deep gray matter volume (particularly the lentiform nuclei); and enlargement of the lateral ventricles, amongst other features. In future, the ability to assess phenotypic severity at the neonatal stage may help guide early interventions and, ultimately, help improve neurodevelopmental outcomes in children with DS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8921-8941
Number of pages21
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number14
Early online date30 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2023


  • Down syndrome
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • neonate
  • normative modelling
  • volumetric


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