Neuron specific enolase (NSE) in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and glutamate in CSF were investigated in the immediate postasphyctic period in 22 term newborn infants. The cerebral function monitor (CFM) pattern was also assessed and hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) was graded. NSE was significantly increased in the CSF of infants with HIE (median value 25.4 micrograms/l) compared with control infants (10.0 micrograms/l). Infants with the highest concentrations died. NSE in CSF correlated with the degree of asphyxial damage. Glutamate and NSE in CSF did not correlate, presumably due to the different time factors of the release after the insult. NSE in CSF corresponded well with the type of CFM pattern, which was also highly predictive of outcome.
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