Asymmetry in sleep spindles and motor outcome in infants with unilateral brain injury

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2022 Apr 20. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.15244. Online ahead of print.


Aim: To determine whether interhemispheric difference in sleep spindles in infants with perinatal unilateral brain injury could link to a pathological network reorganization that underpins the development of unilateral cerebral palsy (CP).

Method: This was a multicentre retrospective study of 40 infants (19 females, 21 males) with unilateral brain injury. Sleep spindles were detected and quantified with an automated algorithm from electroencephalograph records performed at 2 months to 5 months of age. The clinical outcomes after 18 months were compared to spindle power asymmetry (SPA) between hemispheres in different brain regions.

Results: We found a significantly increased SPA in infants who later developed unilateral CP (n=13, with the most robust interhemispheric difference seen in the central spindles. The best individual-level prediction of unilateral CP was seen in the centro-occipital spindles with an overall accuracy of 93%. An empiric cut-off level for SPA at 0.65 gave a positive predictive value of 100% and a negative predictive value of 93% for later development of unilateral CP.

Interpretation: Our data suggest that automated analysis of interhemispheric SPA provides a potential biomarker of unilateral CP at a very early age. This holds promise for guiding the early diagnostic process in infants with a perinatally identified brain injury.