More than half of all infants with neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) are graded as mild and do not meet current criteria for therapeutic hypothermia. These infants are often not enrolled in follow-up, and hence our knowledge of their long-term outcome is sparse. We wished to compare 5-year outcomes in a group of infants with mild, moderate, and severe HIE, graded with both early EEG and clinical assessment, none of whom were treated with therapeutic hypothermia.
Term infants with HIE and a healthy comparison group were recruited at birth. Both groups had early continuous EEG recordings. Cognitive and motor outcome was assessed at 5 years.
Outcome was available in 53 infants with HIE and 30 infants in the comparison group at 5 years. Infants with mild HIE at birth (n = 22) had significantly lower full-scale IQ, verbal IQ, and performance IQ than comparison infants (n = 30) at 5 years (P = .001, .001, and 0.004, respectively). No difference in cognitive measures was seen between infants with mild and moderate grades HIE. Intact survival at 5 years varied across EEG grade HIE at 6 hours after birth; 75% in mild, 46% in moderate, 43% in major abnormalities, and 0% with inactive EEGs, compared with 97% in the comparison group.
Survivors of mild HIE, graded clinically or by early EEG, have higher rates of disability than their peers and have cognitive outcomes similar to that of children with moderate encephalopathy in an uncooled HIE cohort.