Changes in EEG background activity are powerful but nonspecific markers of brain dysfunction. Early EEG and amplitude-integrated EEG (aEEG) pattern predict further neurodevelopmental outcome in term infants; however, sufficient data for prognostic value of aEEG in preterm infants are not available so far. The aim of the study was to evaluate whether aEEG predicts further outcome and to compare it to cerebral ultrasound assessment. In 143 preterm infants, aEEG within the first 2 wk of life and outcome data at 3 y of age (Bayley Scales) could be obtained.aEEG was classified into a graded score according to background activity, appearance of sleep-wake cycling, and occurrence of seizure activity. In preterm infants, aEEG was significantly associated with further outcome. Specificity was 73% for assessment within the first and increased to 95% in the second week of life, whereas sensitivity stayed nearly the same 87% (first week) to 83% (second week). Cerebral ultrasound showed a specificity of 86% within the first and second week, sensitivity also stayed nearly the same (74 and 75%). aEEG has a predictive value for later outcome in preterm infants and can be used as an early prognostic tool.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00728234.