Infant hydrocephalus poses a severe global health burden; 80% of cases occur in the developing world where patients have limited access to neurosurgical care. Surgical treatment combining endoscopic third ventriculostomy and choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC), first practiced at CURE Children’s Hospital of Uganda (CCHU), is as effective as standard ventriculoperitoneal shunt (VPS) placement while requiring fewer resources and less post-operative care. Although treatment focuses on controlling ventricle size, this has little association with treatment failure or long-term outcome. This study aims to monitor the progression of hydrocephalus and treatment response, and investigate the association between cerebral physiology, brain growth, and neurodevelopmental outcomes following surgery. We will enroll 300 infants admitted to CCHU for treatment. All patients will receive pre/post-operative measurements of cerebral tissue oxygenation (SO2), cerebral blood flow (CBF), and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption (CMRO2) using frequency-domain near-infrared combined with diffuse correlation spectroscopies (FDNIRS-DCS). Infants will also receive brain imaging, to monitor tissue/ventricle volume, and neurodevelopmental assessments until two years of age. This study will provide a foundation for implementing cerebral physiological monitoring to establish evidence-based guidelines for hydrocephalus treatment. This paper outlines the protocol, clinical workflow, data management, and analysis plan of this international, multi-center trial.
Anesthetic agents disrupt neurodevelopment in animal models, but evidence in humans is mixed. The morphologic and behavioral changes observed across many species predicted that deficits should be seen in humans, but identifying a phenotype of injury in children has been challenging. It is increasingly clear that in children, a brief or single early anesthetic exposure is not associated with deficits in a range of neurodevelopmental outcomes including broad measures of intelligence. Deficits in other domains including behavior, however, are more consistently reported in humans and also reflect findings from nonhuman primates. The possibility that behavioral deficits are a phenotype, as well as the entire concept of anesthetic neurotoxicity in children, remains a source of intense debate. The purpose of this report is to describe consensus and disagreement among experts, summarize preclinical and clinical evidence, suggest pathways for future clinical research, and compare studies of anesthetic agents to other suspected neurotoxins.
Evidence regarding the predictive value of early amplitude-integrated electroencephalography (aEEG)/EEG on neurodevelopmental outcomes at school age and beyond is lacking. We aimed to investigate whether there is an association between early postnatal EEG and neurocognitive outcomes in late childhood.
This study is an observational prospective cohort study of premature infants with a gestational age <28 weeks. The total absolute band powers (tABP) of the delta, theta, alpha, and beta bands were analyzed from EEG recordings during the first three days of life. At 10–12 years of age, neurocognitive outcomes were assessed using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children 4th edition (WISC-IV), Vineland adaptive behavior scales 2nd edition, and Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function (BRIEF). The mean differences in tABP were assessed for individuals with normal versus unfavorable neurocognitive scores.
Twenty-two infants were included. tABP values in all four frequency bands were significantly lower in infants with unfavorable results in the main composite scores (full intelligence quotient, adaptive behavior composite score, and global executive composite score) on all three tests (p < 0.05).
Early postnatal EEG has the potential to assist in predicting cognitive outcomes at 10–12 years of age in extremely premature infants <28 weeks’ gestation.
Evidence regarding the value of early postnatal EEG in long-term prognostication in preterm infants is limited.
Our study suggests that early EEG spectral analysis correlates with neurocognitive outcomes in late childhood in extremely preterm infants.
Early identification of infants at-risk of later impairment is important to initiate early and targeted follow-up and intervention.
The N3 and N6 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA) are essential for proper neurodevelopment in early life. These fatty acids are passed from mother to infant via the placenta, accreting into fetal tissues such as brain and adipose tissue. Placental transfer of LCPUFA is highest in the final trimester, but this transfer is abruptly severed with premature birth. As such, efforts have been made to supplement the post-natal feed of premature infants with LCPUFA to improve neurodevelopmental outcomes. This narrative review analyzes the current body of evidence pertinent to neurodevelopmental outcomes after LCPUFA supplementation in prematurely born infants, which was identified via the reference lists of systematic and narrative reviews and PubMed search engine results. This review finds that, while the evidence is weakened by heterogeneity, it may be seen that feed comprising 0.3% DHA and 0.6% AA is associated with more positive neurodevelopmental outcomes than LCPUFA-deplete feed. While no new RCTs have been performed since the most recent Cochrane meta-analysis in 2016, this narrative review provides a wider commentary; the wider effects of LCPUFA supplementation in prematurely born infants, the physiology of LCPUFA accretion into preterm tissues, and the physiological effects of LCPUFA that affect neurodevelopment. We also discuss the roles of maternal LCPUFA status as a modifiable factor affecting the risk of preterm birth and infant neurodevelopmental outcomes. To better understand the role of LCPUFAs in infant neurodevelopment, future study designs must consider absolute and relative availabilities of all LCPUFA species and incorporate the LCPUFA status of both mother and infant in pre- and postnatal periods.
Objective: To 1) define the prevalence of motor, cognitive, and language delays in preterm infants born < 32 weeks estimated gestational age (EGA) and 2) identify the relationship between the timing of discharge from the NICU and neurodevelopmental outcome in early childhood.
Study Design: This retrospective study of 176 preterm infants born < 32 weeks EGA and hospitalized in a level IV NICU captured medical factors, including timing of discharge, from the NICU stay. Standardized developmental testing at 1-2 years corrected age was conducted in the newborn follow-up clinic.
Results: At 1-2 years corrected age, the sample had an average cognitive composite score of 91.5 ± 17.4, language composite score of 84.5 ± 17.3, and motor composite score of 88.9 ± 18.4. Lower EGA at birth, necrotizing enterocolitis, patent ductus arteriosus, and oxygen requirement for > 28 days were independently associated with higher postmenstrual age (PMA) at NICU discharge. After controlling for known risk factors, higher PMA at discharge was associated with poorer cognitive outcome [p < 0.001, (-0.16, -0.07), β = -0.35], poorer language outcome [p = 0.049 (-0.10, 0.00), β = -0.15] and poorer motor outcome [p < 0.001, (-0.14, -0.05), β = -0.30].
Conclusion: Poorer cognitive, language, and motor outcomes were associated with longer hospitalization, even after controlling for medical risk factors known to be associated with poorer outcome. This provides further evidence for the potential role of the environment that may be impacting the developmental outcomes of infants hospitalized in the NICU.
To evaluate the impact of fetal haemodynamics on surgical and neurodevelopmental outcomes in severe Ebstein anomaly and tricuspid valve dysplasia.
Thirty-four fetuses with Ebstein anomaly/tricuspid valve dysplasia were referred from 2013 to 2019 for fetal echocardiography and clinical management. Nineteen fetuses with Ebstein anomaly/tricuspid valve dysplasia and 30 controls underwent cardiovascular magnetic resonance to quantify the fetal blood flow and to calculate cerebral oxygen delivery (cDO2) and consumption (cVO2). The 3D steady-state free precession acquisition was used to measure fetal brain volume. Surgical outcome, brain MRI, and neurodevelopmental follow-up were reviewed.
Twenty-six fetuses were live born (76%) and survival (65%) at a mean follow-up of 4 years. Nine fetuses had a brain MRI before discharge, and all had clinically silent injuries and volume loss. At 18 months, five single-ventricle patients had a neurodevelopmental delay in cognition and language (mean percentile: 11th), with gross-motor skills more affected than fine-motor skills (mean percentiles: 4th and 34th). Fetuses with Ebstein anomaly/tricuspid valve dysplasia had smaller brains, lower combined ventricular output, ascending aorta, superior caval vien and umbilical vein flows, lower oxygen saturation in ascending aorta and superior caval vien, lower cDO2 and cVO2 (p < 0.05). Superior caval vien/combined ventricular output and descending aorta/combined ventricular output ratios were lower in fetuses with circular shunt (p < 0.05). Fetuses requiring the Starnes procedure tended to have smaller brains, lower combined ventricular output, superior caval vien, descending aorta, and umbilical vein flows.
All patients with Ebstein anomaly/tricuspid valve dysplasia are at high risk of neurodevelopmental delay and warrant follow-up. Fetal cardiovascular magnetic resonance revealed impaired brain growth with diminished cerebral blood flow and cDO2, the extenting dependent on the severity of the haemodynamic compromise.
Neonatal brain injury may impact brain development and lead to lifelong functional impairments. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and congenital heart disease (CHD) are two common causes of neonatal brain injury differing in timing and mechanism. Maturation of whole-brain neural networks can be quantified during development using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging (dMRI) in combination with graph theory metrics. DMRI of 35 subjects with CHD and 62 subjects with HIE were compared to understand differences in the effects of HIE and CHD on the development of network topological parameters and functional outcomes. CHD newborns had worse 12–18 month language (P<0.01) and 30 month cognitive (P<0.01), language (P = 0.05), motor outcomes (P = 0.01). Global efficiency, a metric of brain integration, was lower in CHD (P = 0.03) than in HIE, but transitivity, modularity and small-worldness were similar. After controlling for clinical factors known to affect neurodevelopmental outcomes, we observed that global efficiency was highly associated with 30 month motor outcomes (P = 0.02) in both groups. To explore neural correlates of adverse language outcomes in CHD, we used hypothesis-based and data-driven approaches to identify pathways with altered structural connectivity. We found that connectivity strength in the superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF) tract 2 was inversely associated with expressive language. After false discovery rate correction, a whole connectome edge analysis identified 18 pathways that were hypoconnected in the CHD cohort as compared to HIE. In sum, our study shows that neonatal structural connectivity predicts early motor development after HIE or in subjects with CHD, and regional SLF connectivity is associated with language outcomes. Further research is needed to determine if and how brain networks change over time and whether those changes represent recovery or ongoing dysfunction. This knowledge will directly inform strategies to optimize neurologic functional outcomes after neonatal brain injury.