Development of muscle ultrasound density in healthy fetuses and infants

Renate J Verbeek*, Petra B Mulder, Krystyna M Sollie, Johannes H van der Hoeven, Wilfred F A den Dunnen, Natalia M Maurits, Deborah A Sival

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Muscle ultrasound density (MUD) is a non-invasive parameter to indicate neuromuscular integrity in both children and adults. In healthy fetuses and infants, physiologic MUD values during development are still lacking. We therefore aimed to determine the physiologic, age-related MUD trend of biceps, quadriceps, tibialis anterior, hamstrings, gluteal and calf muscles, from pre- to the first year of postnatal life. To avoid a bias by pregnancy-related signal disturbances, we expressed fetal MUD as a ratio against bone ultrasound density. We used the full-term prenatal MUD ratio and the newborn postnatal MUD value as reference points, so that MUD development could be quantified from early pre- into postnatal life. Results: During the prenatal period, the total muscle group revealed a developmental MUD trend concerning a fetal increase in MUD-ratio from the 2nd trimester up to the end of the 3rd trimester [median increase: 27% (range 16-45), p < .001]. After birth, MUD-values increased up to the sixth month [median increase: 11% (range -7-27), p = 0.025] and stabilized thereafter. Additionally, there were also individual MUD characteristics per muscle group and developmental stage, such as relatively low MUD values of fetal hamstrings and high values of the paediatric gluteus muscles. These MUD trends are likely to concur with analogous developmentally, maturation-related alterations in the muscle water to peptide content ratios.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0235836
    Number of pages10
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul-2020

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