Eating disorder psychopathology, brain structure, neuropsychological correlates and risk mechanisms in very preterm young adults

Nadia Micali, Radha Kothari, Kie Woo Nam, Elena Gioroukou, Muriel Walshe, Matthew Allin, Larry Rifkin, Robin M. Murray, Chiara Nosarti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study investigates the prevalence of eating disorder (ED) psychopathology, neuropsychological function, structural brain correlates and risk mechanisms in a prospective cohort of very preterm (VPT) young adults. We assessed ED psychopathology and neuropsychological correlates in 143 cohort individuals born at <33weeks of gestation. Structural brain correlates and risk factors at birth, in childhood and adolescence, were investigated using prospectively collected data throughout childhood/adolescence. VPT-born individuals had high levels of ED psychopathology at age 21years. Executive function did not correlate with ED symptomatology. VPT adults presenting with ED psychopathology had smaller grey matter volume at age 14/15years in the left posterior cerebellum and smaller white matter volume in the fusiform gyrus bilaterally, compared with VPT adults with no ED psychopathology. Caesarean delivery predicted engaging in compensatory behaviours, and severe eating difficulty at age 14years predicted ED symptomatology in young adulthood. VPT individuals are at risk for ED symptomatology, with evidence of associated structural alterations in posterior brain regions. Further prospective studies are needed to clarify the pathways that lead from perinatal/obstetric complications to ED and relevant neurobiological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Volume23
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • brain structure
  • eating disorders
  • neuropsychology
  • perinatal complications
  • preterm

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