Despite advances in neonatal and perinatal care, prematurely born infants remain at significant risk for brain injury and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes. Traditionally, cranial ultrasound has been used to identify cerebral abnormalities in this population. However, this technique has limitations in its ability to detect injury and identify infants at risk for subsequent neurodevelopmental disability. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides an improved mechanism for comprehensive assessment of cerebral development and characterization of injury. Growing expertise has demonstrated that MRI scans can be performed safely and routinely on premature infants at any institution. Recent investigations have shown that findings from conventional MRI sequences demonstrate strong associations with childhood outcomes in this population. In addition, advanced magnetic resonance techniques have been applied to provide additional insights into normative and aberrant cerebral development and enhance predictive capabilities. These findings demonstrate that MRI is a widely available tool well-suited for predicting the neurodevelopmental consequences of prematurity, supporting an expanded role for its use in the clinical care of this high-risk population.

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