Author(s): Tamis W Pin, Bev Eldridge, Mary P Galea
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Post-asphyxia neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is one of the main causes of disabilities in term-born infants. This review attempted to investigate the developmental outcomes of term-born infants with post-asphyxia NE. METHOD: An electronic search on various databases identified 13 empirical studies against the selection criteria modified from the consensus statement from the International Cerebral Palsy Task Force. RESULTS: The overall quality of methodology of these studies was average. The random effect meta-estimate of the proportion of infants having adverse developmental outcomes such as death, cognitive impairment, sensory-motor impairments was 47% (95% CI 36-57%). Significant heterogeneity (I(2)=87.7%, p<0.00001) between studies indicated variations in number of subjects in studies and their characteristics. For those studies using the Sarnat grading of NE, the proportion of infants with adverse outcomes was nil in stage 1 (mild) NE, 32% in stage 2 (moderate) and almost 100% in stage 3 (severe) NE. CONCLUSIONS: At present, researchers are using very loose diagnostic criteria of perinatal asphyxia and post-asphyxia NE, making the study samples heterogeneous. Clinicians and researchers are urged to make use of the recent consensus statement regarding diagnostic criteria for intrapartum asphyxia and to identify these high-risk infants for early intervention.