Relationship Between MRI Scoring Systems and Neurodevelopmental Outcome at Two Years in Infants With Neonatal Encephalopathy

Pediatr Neurol. 2022 Jan:126:35-42. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2021.10.005. Epub 2021 Oct 13.


Background: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scoring systems are used in the neonatal period to predict outcome in infants with neonatal encephalopathy. Our aim was to assess the relationship between three MRI scores and neurodevelopmental outcome assessed using Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, third edition (Bayley-III), at two years in infants with neonatal encephalopathy.

Methods: Term-born neonates with evidence of perinatal asphyxia born between 2011 and 2015 were retrospectively reviewed. MRI scanning was performed within the first two weeks of life and scored using Barkovich, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Neonatal Research Network (NRN), and Weeke systems by a single assessor blinded to the infants clinical course. Neurodevelopmental outcome was assessed using composite scores on the Bayley-III at two years. Multiple linear regression analyses were used to assess the association between MRI scores and Bayley-III composite scores, with postmenstrual age at scan and sex included as covariates.

Results: Of the 135 recruited infants, 90 infants underwent MRI, and of these, 66 returned for follow-up. MRI abnormalities were detected with the highest frequency using the Weeke score (Barkovich 40%, NICHD NRN 50%, Weeke 77%). The inter-rater agreement was good for the Barkovich score and excellent for NICHD NRN and Weeke scores. There was a significant association between Barkovich, NICHD NRN, and Weeke scores and Bayley-III cognitive and motor scores. Only the Weeke score was associated with Bayley-III language scores.

Conclusions: Our findings confirm the predictive value of existing MRI scoring systems for cognitive and motor outcome and suggest that more detailed scoring systems have predictive value for language outcome.

Keywords: Barkovich score; Brain; Infant; MRI scoring; NICHD NRN score; Neonatal encephalopathy; Neurodevelopmental outcome; Weeke score.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index*