Fetal assessment based on fetal biophysical profile scoring: VIII. The incidence of cerebral palsy in tested and untested perinates

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

The intent of this comparative clinical study was fourfold: (1) to determine the incidence of cerebral palsy in a large obstetric population, (2) to compare the incidence of cerebral palsy in patients at high risk referred for and managed according to the fetal biophysical profile score result with the incidence among unreferred and untested patients, (3) to determine the relationship, if any, between the last fetal biophysical profile score and the incidence of cerebral palsy, and (4) to categorize cases of cerebral palsy according to the clinical parameters and the probable time and nature of the damaging insult.

STUDY DESIGN

In this retrospective 5-year comparative study (1987 to 1991) the incidence of cerebral palsy was determined by analysis of International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, -coded related medical services. The clinical records were then sought and reviewed in index cases and obstetric, neonatal, and postnatal clinical data were abstracted. Cross-correlation with partial registries was done to confirm completeness of capture of index cases. The population of referred high-risk patients who received serial fetal biophysical profile scoring and were managed according to test results was determined by review of a prospective computer-stored database and by review of patient log books. The population of untested patients was calculated as the residual of total cases minus tested cases. The rate of cerebral palsy for all patients and for the tested and untested population was calculated and compared. The tested and untested perinates were compared for birth age, weight, and assigned timing or etiology of cerebral palsy. In the tested population the distribution of test results by last recorded biophysical profile score was determined and the relationship between the last test result and cerebral palsy and predictive accuracy parameters of the fetal biophysical profile score were calculated.

RESULTS

The incidence of cerebral palsy among the 84,947 live births was 3.68 per 1000 live births (313 cases). The rate of cerebral palsy in the 26,290 referred high-risk tested patients was 1.33 per 1000 (35 cases) compared with a rate of 4.74 per 1000 live births in the 58,657 untested mixed low-risk/high-risk patients (278 cases). These differences were highly significant. A significant declining trend in the annual incidence of cerebral palsy was observed in the total population and the untested population, whereas the rate in the tested population remained relatively constant over the 5-year study interval. The differences in the cerebral palsy rate between the tested and untested population were not related to differences in gestational age, birth weight, or assigned timing or etiology category. In the tested population the relationship between the incidence of cerebral palsy and the last test fetal biophysical profile score was inverse, exponential, and highly significant.

CONCLUSIONS

Antepartum assessment by fetal biophysical profile scoring is associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of cerebral palsy compared with untested patients. The relationship between the last test score and the incidence of cerebral palsy is inverse and exponential, suggesting that antenatal asphyxia is an important and potentially avoidable cause of cerebral palsy. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 1998;178:696-706.)

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