Developmental outcomes of newborn encephalopathy in the term infant.
Badawi N., Keogh JM., Dixon G., Kurinczuk JJ.
Newborn encephalopathy is a clinically defined condition of abnormal neurological behaviours in the newborn period. Though most cases have their origin in the preconceptional and antepartum period, newborn encephalopathy represents a crucial link between intrapartum events and permanent neurological problems in the child. The birth prevalence of newborn encephalopathy ranges from 1.8 to 7.7 per 1000 term live births according to the definition used and the population to which it is applied. Few studies have investigated the outcomes of newborn encephalopathy other than for cases solely attributed to intrapartum hypoxia. These adverse outcomes range from death to cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, and less severe neurological disabilities such as learning and behavioural problems. Outcomes following newborn encephalopathy may vary from country to country with 9.1% of affected babies dying in the newborn period in Western Australia and 10.1% manifesting cerebral palsy by the age of two. These compare to a case fatality of 30.5% in Kathmandu and a cerebral palsy rate of 14.5% by one year of age. The study by Robertson et al which followed children with hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy found an incidence of impairment of 16% among survivors assessed at 8 years with 42% requiring school resource room help or special classes. This review emphasises the great need for comprehensive clinical and educational assessment as these infants approach school entry to enable appropriate educational provisions to be made.