To evaluate the hypothesis that elevated levels of inflammation-related proteins in early postnatal blood predict impaired mental and motor development among extremely preterm infants.
We measured concentrations of 25 inflammation-related proteins in blood collected on postnatal days 1, 7, and 14 from 939 infants born before 28 weeks gestation. An elevated level was defined as a concentration in the highest quartile for gestational age and day of blood collection. We identified impaired development at 24 months of age using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development. The primary outcomes were scores on the Mental or Motor Scale below 55 (more than 3 standard deviations below the mean).
For 17 of the 25 inflammation-related proteins, one or more statistically significant association (p < 0.01) was found between an elevated blood level of the protein and a developmental impairment. Elevations on multiple days were more often associated with developmental impairment than elevations present for only one day. The highest number of elevations was found in day-14 blood.
In extremely preterm infants, elevated levels of inflammation-related proteins in blood collected on postnatal days 7 and 14, especially when sustained, are associated with impaired mental and motor development at age two years.
cytokines; developmental disability; prematurity; Bayley Scales of Infant Development; neurodevelopmental outcome
Aggressive phototherapy (AgPT) is widely used and assumed to be safe and effective for even the most immature infants. We assessed whether the benefits and hazards for the smallest and sickest infants differed from those for other extremely low birth weight (ELBW; (≤1000 g) infants in our Neonatal Research Network trial, the only large trial of AgPT.
ELBW infants (n=1974) were randomized to AgPT or conservative phototherapy at age 12–36 hours. The effect of AgPT on outcomes (death; impairment; profound impairment; death or impairment [primary outcome], and death or profound impairment) at 18–22 months corrected age was related to BW stratum (501–750 g; 751–1000 g) and baseline severity of illness using multilevel regression equations. The probability of benefit and of harm was directly assessed with Bayesian analyses.
Baseline illness severity was well characterized using mechanical ventilation and FiO2 at 24 hours age. Among mechanically ventilated infants ≤750 g BW (n =684), a reduction in impairment and in profound impairment was offset by higher mortality (p for interaction <0.05) with no significant effect on composite outcomes. Conservative Bayesian analyses of this subgroup identified a 99% (posterior) probability that AgPT increased mortality, a 97% probability that AgPT reduced impairment, and a 99% probability that AgPT reduced profound impairment.
Findings from the only large trial of AgPT suggest that AgPT may increase mortality while reducing impairment and profound impairment among the smallest and sickest infants. New approaches to reduce their serum bilirubin need development and rigorous testing.
Phototherapy; bilirubin; severity of illness; ELBW infant; impairment; randomized clinical trial; statistical interaction; Bayesian analysis
Natural antisense transcripts (NATs) are endogenous RNA molecules that are complementary to known RNA transcripts. The functional significance of NATs is poorly understood, but their prevalence in the CNS suggests a role in brain function. Here we investigated a long NAT (antiNOS-2 RNA) associated with the regulation of nitric oxide (NO) production in the CNS of Lymnaea, an established model for molecular analysis of learning and memory. We show the antiNOS-2 RNA is axonally trafficked and demonstrate that this is regulated by classical conditioning. Critically, a single conditioning trial changes the amount of antiNOS-2 RNA transported along the axon. This occurs within the critical time window when neurotransmitter NO is required for memory formation. Our data suggest a role for the antiNOS-2 RNA in establishing memories through the regulation of NO signaling at the synapse.
To determine if selected pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines/mediators of inflammation reported to be related to development of cerebral palsy predict neurodevelopmental outcome in extremely low birth weight infants.
Infants with birth weights ≤ 1000 g (n=1067) had blood samples collected at birth and on days 3±1, 7±1, 14±3, and 21±3 to examine the association between cytokines and neurodevelopmental outcomes. The analyses were focused on five cytokines (IL-1β, IL-8, TNF-α, RANTES, and IL-2) reported to be most predictive of CP in term and late preterm infants.
IL-8 was higher on days 0–4 and subsequently in infants who developed CP compared with infants who did not develop CP in both unadjusted and adjusted analyses. Other cytokines (IL-12, IL-17, TNF-β, SIL-rα, MIP-1β) were found to be altered on days 0–4 in infants who developed CP.
CP in former preterm infants may, in part, have a late perinatal and/or early neonatal inflammatory origin.
To test the hypothesis that heart rate characteristics (HRC) monitoring improves neonatal outcomes.
Two-group, parallel, individually randomized controlled clinical trial of 3003 very low birth weight infants in 9 NICUs. In one group, HRC monitoring was displayed; in the other, it was masked. The primary outcome was number of days alive and ventilator-free in the 120 days after randomization. Secondary outcomes were mortality, number of ventilator days, NICU stay and antibiotic use.
Mortality was reduced in infants whose HRC monitoring was displayed, from 10.2% to 8.1% (HR = 0.78, 95% CI = 0.61 to 0.99, P = 0.04, number needed to monitor 48), and there was a trend toward increased days alive and ventilator-free (95.9 of 120 days compared to 93.6 in controls, P = 0.08). Mortality benefit was concentrated in infants with birth weight <1000g (HR=0.74, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.95, P=0.02, number needed to monitor 23). There were no significant differences in the other outcomes.
Heart rate characteristics monitoring can reduce mortality in very low birth weight infants.
Neonatal sepsis; sample entropy; predictive monitoring; heart rate variability
We examined the association between elevated concentrations of 25 blood proteins in blood spots collected on postnatal days 1, 7, and 14 from infants < 28 weeks gestation who survived to 24 months and the risk of two patterns of early lung disease i.e., early and persistent pulmonary dysfunction (EPPD), and normal early pulmonary function followed by pulmonary deterioration (PD). 38% (N=347) of our cohort had PD, and 43% (N=383) had EPPD. On postnatal day 14, elevated concentrations of two proteins (RANTES and VEGF) were associated with reduced risk of PD. Similarly, the risk of EPPD was also reduced if three proteins had elevated concentrations on postnatal day 14 (RANTES, MMP-1, and VEGF). In contrast, the risk of EPPD was increased if on day 14 two proteins had elevated concentrations (IL-8 and ICAM-1). Inflammation might influence the risk of EPPD and PD, or be a consequence of lung damage or therapies to minimize lung dysfunction.
Oscillating neuronal circuits, known as central pattern generators (CPGs), are responsible for generating rhythmic behaviours such as walking, breathing and chewing. The CPG model alone however does not account for the ability of animals to adapt their future behaviour to changes in the sensory environment that signal reward. Here, using multi-electrode array (MEA) recording in an established experimental model of centrally generated rhythmic behaviour we show that the feeding CPG of Lymnaea stagnalis is itself associated with another, and hitherto unidentified, oscillating neuronal population. This extra-CPG oscillator is characterised by high population-wide activity alternating with population-wide quiescence. During the quiescent periods the CPG is refractory to activation by food-associated stimuli. Furthermore, the duration of the refractory period predicts the timing of the next activation of the CPG, which may be minutes into the future. Rewarding food stimuli and dopamine accelerate the frequency of the extra-CPG oscillator and reduce the duration of its quiescent periods. These findings indicate that dopamine adapts future feeding behaviour to the availability of food by significantly reducing the refractory period of the brain's feeding circuitry.
Influenza vaccine immunogenicity in premature infants is incompletely characterized.
To assess the immunogenicity of trivalent, inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) in extremely low-birth-weight (ELBW, ≤1000 grams birth weight), premature (<30 weeks gestation) infants. We hypothesized that geometric mean titers (GMT) of influenza antibody would be lower in premature than in full-term (≥37 week) infants.
In this prospective, multicenter study, former premature and full-term infants ages, 6–17 months, received 2 doses of TIV during the 2006–7 or 2007–8 influenza seasons. Sera were drawn before dose 1 and 4–6 weeks after dose 2. Antibody was measured by hemagglutination inhibition.
Over two years, 41 premature and 42 full-term infants were enrolled; 36 and 33 of these infants, respectively, had post-vaccination titers available. Premature infants weighed less (mean 1.3 – 1.8 kg difference) at the time of immunization than full-term infants. Pre-vaccination titers did not differ between groups. Premature infants had higher post-vaccination antibody GMT than full-term infants to H1 (2006–7, 1:513 v. 1:91, P=0.03; 2007–8, 1:363 v. 1:189, P=0.02) and B/Victoria (2006–7, 1:51 v. 1:10, P=0.02). More premature than full-term infants had antibody titers ≥ 1:32 to B/Victoria (85% v. 60%, p=0.04) in 2007–8. Two (5%) premature and 8 (19%) full-term infants had adverse events, primarily fever, within 72 hours after vaccination. No child had medically-diagnosed influenza.
Former premature infants had antibody responses to two TIV doses greater than or equal to those of full-term children. Two TIV doses are immunogenic and well tolerated in ELBW, premature infants 6–17 months old.
Premature infant; very low birth weight infant; influenza vaccines; immunization; vaccines
Although ionizing radiation induces germline mutations in animals, human studies of radiation-exposed populations have not detected an effect. We conducted a case-control study of sporadic bilateral retinoblastoma, which results from a new germline RB1 mutation, to investigate gonadal radiation exposure of parents from medical sources before their child's conception. Parents of 206 cases from 9 North American institutions and 269 controls participated; fathers of 184 cases and 223 friend and relative controls and mothers of 204 cases and 260 controls provided information in telephone interviews on their medical radiation exposure. Cases provided DNA for RB1 mutation testing. Of common procedures, lower GI series conferred the highest estimated dose to testes and ovaries. Paternal history of lower GI series was associated with increased risk of retinoblastoma in the child (matched odds ratio (OR)=3.6, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2, 11.2, 2-sided P=0.02), as was estimated total testicular dose from all procedures combined (OR for highest dose=3.9, 95% CI 1.2, 14.4, P =0.02). Maternal history of lower GI series was also associated with increased risk (OR=7.6, 95% CI 2.8, 20.7, P <0.001) as was estimated total dose (OR for highest dose=3.0, 95% CI 1.4, 7.0, P =0.005). The RB1 mutation spectrum in cases of exposed parents did not differ from that of other cases. Some animal and human data support our findings of an association of gonadal radiation exposure in men and women with new germline RB1 mutation detectable in their children, although bias, confounding, and/or chance may also explain the results.
germline mutation; ionizing radiation; retinoblastoma; case-control studies; pediatric cancer
Lung inflammation contributes to the pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and may be accompanied by a systematic inflammatory response. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of systemic inflammation in the development of BPD in a cohort of extremely low gestational age newborns (ELGANs) by examining the relationships between inflammation-associated proteins in neonatal blood samples and pulmonary outcomes. Proteins were measured in blood specimens collected on postnatal days 1–3, 5–8 and 12–15 from 932 ELGANs. Increased risk of BPD was associated with elevated blood concentrations of a variety of pro-inflammatory cytokines, adhesion molecules and proteases. Reduced risk was prominently associated with increased concentrations of one chemokine, RANTES. Elevations of inflammatory proteins associated with BPD risk occurred during the first days following birth, and inflammation intensified thereafter. Therefore, exposures that promote inflammation after the first postnatal days may be more critical in the pathogenesis of BPD. Fetal growth restriction, a known BPD risk factor, was not accompanied by proteins elevations and therefore does not appear to be mediated by systemic inflammation. By contrast, mechanical ventilation altered protein levels and may be associated with systemic inflammation.
It remains controversial as to whether neonatal seizures have additional direct effects on the developing brain separate from the severity of the underlying encephalopathy. Using data collected from infants diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, and who were enrolled in an National Institute of Child Health and Human Development trial of hypothermia, we analyzed associations between neonatal clinical seizures and outcomes at 18 months of age. Of the 208 infants enrolled, 102 received whole body hypothermia and 106 were controls. Clinical seizures were generally noted during the first 4 days of life and rarely afterward. When adjustment was made for study treatment and severity of encephalopathy, seizures were not associated with death, or moderate or severe disability, or lower Bayley Mental Development Index scores at 18 months of life. Among infants diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, the mortality and morbidity often attributed to neonatal seizures can be better explained by the underlying severity of encephalopathy.
neonatal seizures; whole-body hypothermia; neurodevelopmental outcome; hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
To evaluate, in extremely low gestational age newborns (ELGANs), relationships between indicators of early postnatal hypotension and cranial ultrasound indicators of cerebral white matter damage imaged in the nursery and cerebral palsy diagnoses at 24 month follow-up.
The 1041 infants in this prospective study were born at < 28 weeks gestation, were assessed for 3 indicators of hypotension in the first 24 postnatal hours, had at least one set of protocol cranial ultrasound scans, and were evaluated with a structured neurologic exam at 24 months corrected age. Indicators of hypotension included: 1) lowest mean arterial pressure (MAP) in the lowest quartile for gestational age; 2) treatment with a vasopressor; and 3) blood pressure lability, defined as the upper quartile of the difference between each infant’s lowest and highest MAP. Outcomes included indicators of cerebral white matter damage, i.e. moderate/severe ventriculomegaly or an echolucent lesion on cranial ultrasound, and cerebral palsy diagnoses at 24 months gestation. Logistic regression was used to evaluate relationships among hypotension indicators and outcomes, adjusting for potential confounders.
Twenty-one percent of surviving infants had a lowest blood pressure in the lowest quartile for gestational age, 24% were treated with vasopressors, and 24% had labile blood pressure. Among infants with these hypotension indicators, 10% percent developed ventriculomegaly and 7% developed an echolucent lesion. At 24-months follow-up, 6% had developed quadriparesis, 4% diparesis, and 2% hemiparesis. After adjusting for confounders, we found no association between indicators of hypotension, and indicators of cerebral white matter damage or a cerebral palsy diagnosis.
The absence of an association between indicators of hypotension and cerebral white matter damage and or cerebral palsy suggests that early hypotension may not be important in the pathogenesis of brain injury in ELGANs.
hypotension; mean arterial blood pressure; cranial ultrasound; ventriculomegaly; echolucent lesion; cerebral palsy; extremely preterm infants
We wanted to assess to what extent concentrations of circulating proteins appear to be developmentally regulated, and to what extent such regulation is influenced by intrauterine inflammation.
We measured 22 proteins in blood obtained on postnatal days 1, 7, and 14 from 818 children born before the 28th week of gestation for whom we also had information about placenta morphology.
Within the narrow gestational age range of this sample, some protein concentrations increase in blood with increasing gestational age. More commonly, the concentrations of inflammation-related proteins decrease with increasing gestational age. We observed this inverse pattern both in children whose placenta was and was not inflamed.
Regardless of whether or not the placenta is inflamed, the concentrations of inflammation-related proteins in early blood specimens appear to be developmentally regulated with the most common pattern being a decrease with increasing gestational age.
To investigate the effects of postnatal dexamethasone treatment (DEX) on aerobic fitness and physical activity levels in school-age children born with very low birth weight (VLBW)
Follow-up study of 65 VLBW infants who participated in a randomized controlled trial of DEX to reduce ventilator dependency. Aerobic fitness was determined from peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) with a cycle ergometer. Habitual physical activity was assessed by questionnaire.
A trend for a treatment with chronic lung disease diagnosis (CLD) interaction was found with children in the Placebo group with CLD having the lowest VO2peak (p=.09). Fifty-three % of the DEX group and 48% of the Placebo group had reduced fitness. No group differences were found for physical activity. Parental reports suggested that nearly two-thirds of children participated in <1 hour per week of vigorous physical activity which was partially explained by decreased larger airway function (r=0.30, p=0.03).
We found no adverse effect of postnatal DEX on aerobic fitness or habitual physical activity at school-age. However, the reduced fitness and physical activity levels emphasize the need for closer follow-up and early interventions promoting physical activity to reduce risk of chronic disease in this at-risk population.
To evaluate neurodevelopment following necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and late bacteremia, alone and together.
Sample included 1155 infants born at 23-27 weeks’ gestation. NEC was classified by the Modified Bell’s staging criteria and grouped as medical NEC or surgical NEC. Late bacteremia was defined as a positive blood culture after the first postnatal week. Neurodevelopment was assessed at 24 months corrected age. Multivariable models estimated the risk of developmental dysfunction and microcephaly associated with medical or surgical NEC with and without late bacteremia.
Children who had surgical NEC unaccompanied by late bacteremia were at increased risk of Psychomotor Developmental Indices <70 [OR=2.7 (1.2, 6.4)], and children who had both surgical NEC and late bacteremia were at increased risk of diparetic cerebral palsy [OR=8.4 (1.9, 39)] and microcephaly [OR=9.3 (2.2, 40)]. In contrast, children who had medical NEC with or without late bacteremia were not at increased risk of any developmental dysfunction.
The risk of neurodevelopmental dysfunction and microcephaly is increased in children who had surgical NEC, especially if they also had late bacteremia. These observations support the hypothesis that bowel injury might initiate systemic inflammation potentially affecting the developing brain.
Infant, premature; necrotizing enterocolitis; sepsis; neurodevelopment
The authors explored associations between blood gas abnormalities in more than 1,000 preterm infants during the first postnatal days and indicators of neonatal brain damage. During 2002–2004, women delivering infants before 28 weeks’ gestation at one of 14 participating institutions in 5 US states were asked to enroll in the study. The authors compared infants with blood gas values in the highest or lowest quintile for gestational age and postnatal day (extreme value) on at least 1 of the first 3 postnatal days with the remainder of the subjects, with separate analyses for blood gas abnormalities on multiple days and for partial pressure of oxygen in the alveolar gas of <35. Outcomes analyzed were ventriculomegaly and an echolucent lesion on an ultrasound scan in the neonatal intensive care unit, and cerebral palsy, microcephaly, and a low score on a Bayley Scale of Infant Development at 24 months. Every blood gas derangement (hypoxemia, hyperoxemia, hypocapnia, hypercapnia, and acidosis) was associated with multiple indicators of brain damage. However, for some, the associations were seen with only 1 day of exposure; others were evident with 2 or more days’ exposure. Findings suggest that individual blood gas derangements do not increase brain damage risk. Rather, the multiple derangements associated with indicators of brain damage might be indicators of immaturity/vulnerability and illness severity.
blood gas analysis; brain; infant, newborn; leukomalacia, periventricular; premature birth
Invasive candidiasis is a leading cause of infection-related morbidity and mortality in extremely low-birth-weight (<1000 g) infants. We quantify risk factors predicting infection in high-risk premature infants and compare clinical judgment with a prediction model of invasive candidiasis.
The study involved a prospective observational cohort of infants <1000 g birth weight at 19 centers of the NICHD Neonatal Research Network. At each sepsis evaluation, clinical information was recorded, cultures obtained, and clinicians prospectively recorded their estimate of the probability of invasive candidiasis. Two models were generated with invasive candidiasis as their outcome: 1) potentially modifiable risk factors and 2) a clinical model at time of blood culture to predict candidiasis.
Invasive candidiasis occurred in 137/1515 (9.0%) infants and was documented by positive culture from ≥ 1 of these sources: blood (n=96), cerebrospinal fluid (n=9), urine obtained by catheterization (n=52), or other sterile body fluid (n=10). Mortality was not different from infants who had positive blood culture compared to those with isolated positive urine culture. Incidence varied from 2–28% at the 13 centers enrolling ≥ 50 infants. Potentially modifiable risk factors (model 1) included central catheter, broad-spectrum antibiotics (e.g., third-generation cephalosporins), intravenous lipid emulsion, endotracheal tube, and antenatal antibiotics. The clinical prediction model (model 2) had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.79, and was superior to clinician judgment (0.70) in predicting subsequent invasive candidiasis. Performance of clinical judgment did not vary significantly with level of training.
Prior antibiotics, presence of a central catheter, endotracheal tube, and center were strongly associated with invasive candidiasis. Modeling was more accurate in predicting invasive candidiasis than clinical judgment.
Candidiasis; premature infant; risk factors
Early detection of late onset neonatal sepsis, prior to obvious and potentially catastrophic clinical signs, is an important goal in neonatal medicine. Sepsis causes a well-known series of physiologic changes including abnormalities of blood pressure, respiration, temperature, and heart rate, and less well-known changes in heart rate variability. While vital signs are frequently or continuously monitored in NICU patients, changes in these parameters are subtle in the early phase of sepsis and difficult to interpret using traditional NICU monitoring tools. A new tool, continuous monitoring of heart rate characteristics, is now available for clinical use. Recent research has established that two abnormalities of heart rate characteristics which have long been used by obstetricians to identify fetal compromise - reduced heart rate variability and transient decelerations - occur early in the course of sepsis in NICU patients, often before clinical signs of illness. Through mathematical modeling of electrocardiogram data from hundreds of NICU patients, a heart rate characteristics (HRC) index was derived that represents the fold increase in risk that a neonate will be diagnosed with clinical or culture-proven sepsis within the next 24 hours. The impact of continuous HRC monitoring on outcomes in preterm very low birthweight infants is the subject of a multicenter randomized clinical trial of 3000 patients which will be complete in 2010. Further research into mechanisms of abnormal HRC and regulation of autonomic nervous system function in sepsis and other disease processes will shed light on additional applications of this exciting new technology.
The heptavalent pneumococcal-CRM197 conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) has been incompletely studied in very-low-birth-weight (VLBW, ≤1500 grams) infants.
To assess PCV-7 immunogenicity in VLBW, premature infants. We hypothesized that the frequency of post-vaccine antibody concentrations ≥0.15 µg/mL would vary directly with birth weight.
This was a multi-center observational study. Infants 401–1500 grams birth weight and <32 0/7 weeks gestation, stratified by birth weight, were enrolled from 9 NICHD Neonatal Research Network centers. Infants received PCV-7 at 2, 4 and 6 months after birth and had blood drawn 4–6 weeks following the third dose. Antibodies against the 7 vaccine serotypes were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Of 369 enrolled infants, 244 completed their primary vaccine series by 8 months and had serum obtained. Subjects were 27.8 ± 2.2 (mean ± standard deviation) weeks gestation and 1008 ± 282 grams birth weight. Twenty-six percent had bronchopulmonary dysplasia and 16% had received postnatal glucocorticoids. Infants 1001–1500 grams birth weight were more likely than those 401–1000 grams to achieve antibody concentrations ≥0.15 µg/mL against the least two immunogenic serotypes (6B: 96% v. 85%, P = 0.003 and 23F: 97% v. 88%, P = 0.009). In multiple logistic regression analysis, lower birth weight, postnatal glucocorticoid use, lower weight at blood draw and Caucasian race were each independently associated with antibody concentrations <0.35 µg/mL against serotypes 6B and/or 23F.
When compared with larger premature infants, infants weighing ≤1000 grams at birth have similar antibody responses to most, but not all, PCV-7 vaccine serotypes.
Infant, premature; infant, very low birth weight; pneumococcal vaccines; immunization; vaccines
To assess the influence of clinical status on the association between total plasma bilirubin and unbound bilirubin on death or adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes at 18–22 months corrected age in extremely low birth weight infants.
Total plasma biirubin and unbound biirubin were measured in 1,101 extremely low birth weight infants at 5±1 day of age. Clinical criteria were used to classify infants as clinically stable or unstable. Survivors were examined at 18–22 months corrected age by certified examiners. Outcome variables were death or neurodevelopmental impairment, death or cerebral palsy, death or hearing loss, and death prior to follow-up. For all outcomes, the interaction between bilirubin variables and clinical status was assessed in logistic regression analyses adjusted for multiple risk factors.
Regardless of clinical status, an increasing level of unbound bilirubin was associated with higher rates of death or neurodevelopmental impairment, death or cerebral palsy, death or hearing loss and death before follow-up. Total plasma bilirubin values were directly associated with death or neurodevelopmental impairment, death or cerebral palsy, death or hearing loss, and death before follow-up in unstable infants, but not in stable infants. An inverse association between total plasma bilirubin and death or cerebral palsy was found in stable infants.
In extremely low birth weight infants, clinical status at 5 days of age affects the association between total plasma and unbound bilirubin and death or adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes at 18–22 months of corrected age. An increasing level of UB is associated a higher risk of death or adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes regardless of clinical status. Increasing levels of total plasma bilirubin are directly associated with increasing risk of death or adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in unstable, but not in stable infants.
Plasma bilirubin; unbound bilirubin; Extremely low birth weight infants; Neurodevelopmental outcomes
Cerebral palsy is the most prevalent cause of persisting motor function impairment. In a majority of cases, the predominant motor abnormality is spasticity; other forms of cerebral palsy include dyskinetic (dystonia or choreoathetosis) and ataxic cerebral palsy. The care of individuals with cerebral palsy should include the provision of a primary care medical home for care coordination and suppor and diagnostic evaluations. Current strategies to decrease the risk of cerebral palsy include interventions to prolong pregnancy (e.g., 17α-progesterone), limiting the number of multiple gestations related to assisted reproductive technology, antenatal steroids for mothers expected to deliver prematurely, caffeine for extremely low birth weight neonates, and induced hypothermia for a subgroup of neonates diagnosed with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
cerebral palsy; function impairment; neuroimaging classification; postnatal prevention
Inflammatory phenomena appear to contribute to the occurrence of perinatal cerebral white matter damage and cerebral palsy (CP). The stimulus that initiates the inflammation remains obscure. 1246 infants born before the 28th post-menstrual week had a protocol ultrasound scan of the brain read concordantly by two independent sonologists. 899 of the children had a neurologic examination at approximately 24 months post term equivalent. The placenta of each child had been biopsied under sterile conditions, and later cultured. Histologic slides of the placenta were examined specifically for this study. Recovery of a single microorganism predicted an echolucent lesion, whereas polymicrobial cultures and recovery of skin flora predicted both ventriculomegaly and an echolucent lesion. Diparetic CP was predicted by recovery of a single microorganism, multiple organisms, and skin flora. Histologic inflammation predicted ventriculomegaly and diparetic CP. The risk of ventriculomegaly associated with organism recovery was heightened when accompanied by histologic inflammation, but the risk of diparetic CP was not. Low virulence microorganisms isolated from the placenta, including common skin microflora, predict ultrasound lesions of the brain and diparetic CP in the very preterm infant. Organism recovery does not appear to be needed for placenta inflammation to predict diparetic CP.
Studies of the relationship between ultrasound images from preterm newborns and developmental delay most often are based on small samples defined by birth weight and exclude infants not testable with standardized assessments.
We evaluated associations between ultrasound-defined lesions of the brain and developmental delays at 24 months’ corrected age in 1017 children born before the 28th postmenstrual week. Brain ultrasound scans were read for concordance on 4 lesions: intraventricular hemorrhage, moderate/severe ventriculomegaly, white matter echodense/hyperechoic lesions, and white matter echodense/hypoechoic lesions and 2 diagnoses–periventricular leukomalacia and periventricular hemorrhagic infarction. Certified examiners, who were not aware of the infants’ ultrasound findings, administered the Bayley Scales of Infant Development-Second Edition. Children with an impairment (eg., blindness) that precluded testing with the Bayley Scales and those for whom >2 test items were omitted were classified using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales Motor Skills Domain instead of the Psychomotor Development Index and the Adaptive Behavior Composite instead of the Mental Development Index.
Fully 26% of all of the children had delayed mental development (ie, Mental Development Index < 70), and 31% had delayed psychomotor development (ie, Psychomotor Development Index < 70). Ultrasound abnormalities were more strongly associated with low Psychomotor Development Index than with low Mental Development Index. Children without cranial ultrasound abnormality had the lowest probability (23% and 26%) of delayed mental or psychomotor development. Moderate/severe ventriculomegaly was associated with a more than fourfold increase in the risk of psychomotor delay and an almost threefold increase in the risk of mental delay. Echolucency was the next best predictor of delayed mental and psychomotor development. The probability of low scores varied with the number of zones involved and with the location of echolucency. At particularly high risk were infants with bilateral cerebellar hemorrhage, co-occurring ventriculomegaly and echolucency bilateral echolucency, or echolucency located posteriorly.
Focal white matter damage, as characterized by echolucent/hypoechoic lesion, and diffuse damage, as suggested by late ventriculomegaly, are associated with delayed mental and psychomotor development.
prematurity; cognitive development; intraventricular hemorrhage; periventricular leukomalacia; neonatal follow-up; Bayley Scales of Infant Development
We sought to identify risk factors for congenital microcephaly in extremely low gestational age newborns.
Demographic, clinical, and placental characteristics of 1445 infants born before the 28th week were gathered and evaluated for their relationship with congenital microcephaly.
Almost 10% of newborns (n = 138), rather than the expected 2.2%, had microcephaly defined as a head circumference >2 SD below the median. In multivariable models, microcephaly was associated with nonwhite race, severe intrauterine growth restriction, delivery for preeclampsia, placental infarction, and being female. The risk factors for a head circumference between <1 and >2 SD below the median were similar to those of microcephaly.
Characteristics associated with fetal growth restriction and preeclampsia are among the strongest correlates of microcephaly among children born at extremely low gestational ages. The elevated risk of a small head among nonwhites and females might reflect the lack of appropriate head circumference standards.
extreme prematurity; head size; intrauterine growth restriction; microcephaly
This report presents data from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network on care of and morbidity and mortality rates for very low birth weight infants, according to gestational age (GA).
Perinatal/neonatal data were collected for 9575 infants of extremely low GA (22–28 weeks) and very low birth weight (401–1500 g) who were born at network centers between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2007.
Rates of survival to discharge increased with increasing GA (6% at 22 weeks and 92% at 28 weeks); 1060 infants died at ≤ 12 hours, with most early deaths occurring at 22 and 23 weeks (85% and 43%, respectively). Rates of prenatal steroid use (13% and 53%, respectively), cesarean section (7% and 24%, respectively), and delivery room intubation (19% and 68%, respectively) increased markedly between 22 and 23 weeks. Infants at the lowest GAs were at greatest risk for morbidities. Overall, 93% had respiratory distress syndrome, 46% patent ductus arteriosus, 16% severe intraventricular hemorrhage, 11% necrotizing enterocolitis, and 36% late-onset sepsis. The new severity-based definition of bronchopulmonary dysplasia classified more infants as having bronchopulmonary dysplasia than did the traditional definition of supplemental oxygen use at 36 weeks (68%, compared with 42%). More than one-half of infants with extremely low GAs had undetermined retinopathy status at the time of discharge. Center differences in management and outcomes were identified.
Although the majority of infants with GAs of ≥24 weeks survive, high rates of morbidity among survivors continue to be observed.
extremely low gestation; very low birth weight; morbidity; death