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Lloyd RO, O'Toole JM, Livingstone V, Filan PM, Boylan GB. Can EEG accurately predict 2-year neurodevelopmental outcome for preterm infants? Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2021 Apr 19:fetalneonatal-2020-319825. doi: 10.1136/archdischild-2020-319825. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33875522.

Objective: Establish if serial, multichannel video electroencephalography (EEG) in preterm infants can accurately predict 2-year neurodevelopmental outcome.

Design and patients: EEGs were recorded at three time points over the neonatal course for infants <32 weeks’ gestational age (GA). Monitoring commenced soon after birth and continued over the first 3 days. EEGs were repeated at approximately 32 and 35 weeks’ postmenstrual age (PMA). EEG scores were based on an age-specific grading scheme. Clinical score of neonatal morbidity risk and cranial ultrasound imaging were completed.

Setting: Neonatal intensive care unit at Cork University Maternity Hospital, Ireland.

Main outcome measures: Bayley Scales of Infant Development III at 2 years’ corrected age.

Results: Sixty-seven infants were prospectively enrolled in the study and 57 had follow-up available (median GA 28.9 weeks (IQR 26.5-30.4)). Forty had normal outcome, 17 had abnormal outcome/died. All EEG time points were individually predictive of abnormal outcome; however, the 35-week EEG performed best. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) for this time point was 0.91 (95% CI 0.83 to 1), p<0.001. Comparatively, the clinical course AUC was 0.68 (95% CI 0.54 to 0.80, p=0.015), while abnormal cranial ultrasound was 0.58 (95% CI 0.41 to 0.75, p=0.342).

Conclusion: Multichannel EEG is a strong predictor of 2-year outcome in preterm infants particularly when recorded around 35 weeks’ PMA. Infants at high risk of brain injury may benefit from early postnatal EEG recording which, if normal, is reassuring. Postnatal clinical complications can contribute to poor outcome; therefore, we state that a later EEG around 35 weeks has a role to play in prognostication.

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