Objective To evaluate the prognostic value of EEG regarding the psychomotor outcomes of very premature newborns.
Methods 76 premature infants <30 weeks gestation were enrolled between January 2001 and August 2004. They were examined at 4 and 9 months corrected ages, and at 18 months, 3–4 years and 5–6 years. EEGs performed in the neonatal period were analysed by two neurologists blind to the child's outcome.
Results The mean follow-up was 5.6 years. 25 infants had normal neurological development and all EEGs were normal for 22 of these. 36 others had developmental disabilities (7 motor sequelae and 29 delayed psychomotor development). Of 187 EEGs, 43 were dysmature, 13 disorganised, 2 displayed electrical seizures without clinical manifestations and 15 showed other abnormal features. Dysmaturity was the predominant EEG pattern in newborns with severe or moderate sequelae and was persistent on several EEGs in 12 of these. In contrast, only three infants with normal development had a dysmature pattern on one EEG. All infants with a disorganised pattern had cognitive sequelae, and two had cerebral palsy. The sensitivity of EEG regarding psychomotor outcome was 83.3%, the specificity was 88% and the positive predictive value was 90.9%.
Conclusions Very preterm neonates remain at high risk of neurological sequelae and EEG is a sensitive method for assessing neuromotor and cognitive prognosis. A dysmature pattern was the predominant EEG characteristic in infants who developed severe or moderate impairment. Early postnatal tracing is useful but additional recordings are generally necessary to detect high-risk newborns.
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