Aim: Brain injury after neonatal cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the term baby is often described as an all-or-nothing phenomenon, but little is known about possible late cognitive consequences. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate whether children who needed cardiopulmonary resuscitation because of presumed mild and moderate intra-partum asphyxia with no evidence of neurological impairments at 18 mo of age may display neuropsychological impairments later in life.
Methods: A long-term follow-up of young adults was carried out. A blinded comprehensive neuropsychological assessment of the main aspects of cognitive functions was made. The subjects who were resuscitated were divided into two groups according to the clinical course: 20 cases with mild asphyxia and 11 cases with moderate asphyxia, all followed prospectively and compared with 18 healthy controls. The 31 subjects were born at term or near-term and selected randomly from 59 infants born in 1969-1978 at Sahlgren's Hospital, Göteborg. All infants with early neurological impairments were excluded.
Results: No major differences could be established between the two clinical groups and normal controls in any aspects of cognitive function or intelligence. All the groups performed within the normal range in all tests. A tendency toward minor deficits in verbal ability in the mild group compared to the controls was found. Only one subject had a clear, defined memory deficit.
Conclusions: Infants who underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitatation at birth without neurological deficits at 18 mo of age did not show any cognitive deficits or neuropsychological impairments in adulthood even though inferior performance on some verbal subtests was observed compared to the control group.