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The electroencephalogram (EEG) is a valuable noninvasive tool for assessing neonatal brain function. It has the unique property of providing functional information about the brain, rather than simply the anatomic information that is provided by neuroimaging studies. The major areas in which an EEG can provide unique information in the assessment of newborns are: 1) diagnosis and treatment of seizures, 2) evaluation of severity of cerebral dysfunction from primary neurologic disorders (eg, hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy) or systemic diseases, 3) identification of specific neurologic entities (eg, periventricular leukomalacia, congenital brain malformations, viral encephalitis, and metabolic encephalopathies), and 4) determination of prognosis and long-term neurologic outcome. Serial EEGs provide information about the effectiveness of treatment and disturbances in brain maturation.

An EEG should be considered in the neonate when questions arise regarding the cause of the child’s abnormal neurologic status. There are many situations...

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