Investigatory techniques, particularly magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and spectroscopy, performed in the early neonatal period on infants suspected of intrapartum asphyxia i.e. abnormal fetal heart recording, poor cord gases, low Apgar scores and the need for resuscitation, or with neonatal encephalopathy or seizures, have allowed a much better understanding of the patterns of brain injury and the biochemical processes that follow these events. It is usually possible to distinguish these patterns from those seen in other, often confounding, diagnoses. This has allowed far more precision about the timing of insults and in the prediction of particularly motor, feeding and visual outcome and to some extent intellectual outcome. Long-term neurological and psychometric follow-up of infants in whom detailed perinatal clinical histories and examination, haematological and biochemical investigation and MR brain scans are obtained will allow even more accurate prediction of outcome in the future. Such studies also help to validate standardized neonatal and infant clinical neurological examinations, making them useful tools to predict outcome.
Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.