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School-age outcomes of children without cerebral palsy cooled for neonatal hypoxic–ischaemic encephalopathy in 2008–2010

Abstract

Objective Since therapeutic hypothermia became standard care for neonatal hypoxic–ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE), even fewer infants die or have disability at 18-month assessment than in the clinical trials. However, longer term follow-up of apparently unimpaired children is lacking. We investigated the cognitive, motor and behavioural performances of survivors without cerebral palsy (CP) cooled for HIE, in comparison with matched non-HIE control children at 6–8 years.

Design Case–control study.

Participants 29 case children without CP, cooled in 2008–2010 and 20 age-matched, sex-matched and social class-matched term-born controls.

Measures Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children, Fourth UK Edition, Movement Assessment Battery for Children, Second Edition (MABC-2) and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.

Results Cases compared with controls had significantly lower mean (SD) full-scale IQ (91 [10.37]vs105[13.41]; mean difference (MD): −13.62, 95% CI −20.53 to –6.71) and total MABC-2 scores (7.9 [3.26]vs10.2[2.86]; MD: −2.12, 95% CI −3.93 to –0.3). Mean differences were significant between cases and controls for verbal comprehension (−8.8, 95% CI –14.25 to –3.34), perceptual reasoning (−13.9, 95% CI–20.78 to –7.09), working memory (−8.2, 95% CI–16.29 to –0.17), processing speed (−11.6, 95% CI–20.69 to –2.47), aiming and catching (−1.6, 95% CI–3.26 to –0.10) and manual dexterity (−2.8, 95% CI–4.64 to –0.85). The case group reported significantly higher median (IQR) total (12 [6.5–13.5] vs 6 [2.25–10], p=0.005) and emotional behavioural difficulties (2 [1–4.5] vs 0.5 [0–2.75], p=0.03) and more case children needed extra support in school (34%vs5%, p=0.02) than the control group.

Conclusions School-age children without CP cooled for HIE still have reduced cognitive and motor performance and more emotional difficulties than their peers, strongly supporting the need for school-age assessments.

  • hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy
  • therapeutic hypothermia
  • cognitive
  • motor
  • behavioural outcomes
  • school-age

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