Neuropediatrics 2006; 37(3): 148-153
DOI: 10.1055/s-2006-924333
Original Article

Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Sequential Neurological Examinations in Infants with Neonatal Encephalopathy and Low Apgar Scores: Relationship with Brain MRI

D. Ricci1 , 2 , A. Guzzetta1 , 3 , F. Cowan1 , L. Haataja1 , 4 , M. Rutherford1 , L. Dubowitz1 , E. Mercuri1 , 2
  • 1Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, Hammersmith Campus, London, United Kingdom
  • 2Department of Paediatric Neurology and Psychiatry, Catholic University, Rome, Italy
  • 3Stella Maris Scientific Institute, Department of Reproduction and Developmental Medicine, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
  • 4Department of Paediatrics and Paediatric Neurology, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland
Further Information

Publication History

Received: December 14, 2005

Accepted after Revision: May 30, 2006

Publication Date:
11 September 2006 (online)


Objective: The aims of this study were to (a) describe the evolution of neurological signs after the neonatal period in infants with neonatal encephalopathy and abnormal outcome and (b) to establish the relationship between the evolution of neurological signs and patterns of lesions on brain MRI. Patients: Fifteen children with low Apgar scores, abnormal neurological signs at the end of the neonatal period, and abnormal outcome were examined at 1 - 2 weeks, 5 - 7 weeks, and 6 months. All the infants had at least one MRI scan performed in the neonatal period. Results: All infants had persistent abnormalities on all examinations performed but the severity of neurological impairment was variable and was related to the pattern of brain lesions. Infants with severe basal ganglia and white matter lesions showed abnormal axial and limb tone, movements, and visual function on all the examinations and none achieved independent sitting. In infants with moderate basal ganglia lesions and/or severe white matter changes, visual function and feeding improved by 5 - 7 weeks and were still normal at 6 months while limb tone, which was reduced in the first weeks, appeared to be normal at 5 - 6 weeks but was found to be increased at 6 months; all were able to sit unsupported at 2 years and most of them achieved the ability to walk with support. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the evolution of the neurological patterns after the neonatal period in infants with persisting neonatal abnormalities depends on their pattern of brain lesions.


Eugenio Mercuri

Neuropsichiatria Infantile
Policlinico Gemelli

Largo Gemelli

00168 Roma


Email: [email protected]