Objective: To determine the predictive value of multimodality evoked potentials as well as the neonatal neurobehavioral assessment in neonatal intensive care unit survivors at school entry.
Study design: In this prospective study, healthy (n = 24) and high-risk newborn infants (n = 78) were assessed in the newborn period with auditory brain-stem responses (ABRs) and somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs), as well as the Einstein Neonatal Neurobehavioral Assessment Scale (ENNAS). Healthy and high-risk newborn infants were assessed in a blind fashion at 1, 3, and 5 years of age by a psychologist and a pediatric neurologist. Of those healthy (all 24) and high-risk newborn infants (72/78) with a neonatal ABR, SEP, or both, 62.5% were assessed at 5 years of age with the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of intelligence, the Beery-Buktenica Test of Visual-Motor Integration, the Griffiths Locomotor Subscale, and neurologic examination. Chi-square analyses were carried out on neonatal and outcome measures, and sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values for each of the neonatal tests were ascertained.
Results: The ENNAS and the ABR had good negative predictive value for cognitive (85.7% to 93.3%), locomotor (83.3%), and visual-motor (91.4% to 100%) performance. The ABR had good specificity, whereas the ENNAS was more sensitive. The SEP was an excellent prognostic tool, with high sensitivity (100%) and specificity (80% to 81.3%) for motor as well as cognitive domains. All infants with normal SEPs had favorable outcomes, whereas those with absent potentials did poorly. The SEP abnormalities were associated with findings on neurologic examination in all cases.
Conclusions: Normal neonatal evoked potentials and ENNAS are associated with favorable outcomes. The SEP most accurately predicts neurodevelopmental status at school entry.