White matter and cortical injury in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy: antecedent factors and 2-year outcome

J Pediatr. 2012 Nov;161(5):799-807. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.04.054. Epub 2012 Jun 7.


Objective: To examine the spectrum of isolated white matter (WM)/cortical injury and its relation to outcomes in infants with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and normal appearing basal ganglia and thalami.

Study design: From 1992-2007, 84 term infants with HIE and normal basal ganglia and thalami on neonatal magnetic resonance imaging were studied; WM/cortical lesions were classified by site and severity. Neurodevelopmental outcomes and head growth were documented at a median age of 2 years.

Results: The WM was normal or mildly abnormal in 33.5%, moderate in 40.5%, and severely abnormal in 26% of infants. Cortical involvement was not seen or was only mild in 75.5%, moderate in 13%, and severe in 12% of infants. WM and cortical injury severity were highly correlated (Spearman ρ = 0.74; P < .001). Infants with severe WM injury had more severe neonatal courses and a higher incidence of hypoglycemia. No infant died. Five infants (6%) developed cerebral palsy but all could walk independently. Cognitive, visual, language, behavioral, and seizure problems were highly prevalent and correlated significantly with the severity of WM injury and poor postnatal head growth.

Conclusion: Infants with HIE and selective WM/cortical injury have a low prevalence of cerebral palsy but have a wide range of other problems, which occur more often with severe WM/cortical lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Cephalometry
  • Cerebral Palsy / diagnosis
  • Child, Preschool
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / diagnosis*
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / etiology
  • Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain / physiopathology*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Thalamus / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome