Risk Factors of Impaired Neuropsychologic Outcome in School-Aged Survivors of Neonatal Critical Illness*

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Abstract

Objective:

Until now, long-term outcome studies have focused on general cognitive functioning and its risk factors following neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and/or congenital diaphragmatic hernia. However, it is currently unknown which neuropsychological domains are most affected in these patients and which clinical variables can be used to predict specific neuropsychological problems. This study aimed to identify affected neuropsychological domains and its clinical determinants in survivors of neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and/or congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Design:

Prospective follow-up study.

Setting:

Tertiary university hospital.

Patients:

Sixty-five 8-year-old survivors of neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and/or congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Interventions:

None.

Measurements and Main Results:

Intelligence, attention, memory, executive functioning and visuospatial processing were evaluated using validated tests and compared with Dutch reference data. Assessed risk factors of outcome were illness severity indicators, number of anesthetic procedures in the first year of life, and growth at 1 year. Patients had average intelligence (mean intelligence quotient ± SD, 95 ± 16), but significantly poorer sustained attention (mean z score ± SD, –2.73 ± 2.57), verbal (immediate, –1.09 ± 1.27; delayed, –1.14 ± 1.86), and visuospatial memory (immediate, –1.48 ± 1.02; delayed, –1.57 ± 1.01; recognition, –1.07 ± 3.10) than the norm. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation–treated congenital diaphragmatic hernia patients had significantly lower mean intelligence quotient (84 ± 12) than other neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation patients (94 ± 10) and congenital diaphragmatic hernia patients not treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (100 ± 20). Maximum vasoactive-inotropic score was negatively associated with delayed verbal (B = –0.02; 95% CI, –0.03 to –0.002; p = 0.026) and visuospatial memory (B = –0.01; 95% CI, –0.02 to –0.001; p = 0.024).

Conclusions:

We found memory and attention deficits in 8-year-old neonatal extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and congenital diaphragmatic hernia survivors. The maximum dose of vasoactive medication was negatively associated with verbal and visuospatial memory, which may suggest an effect of early cerebral hypoperfusion in determining these abnormalities.

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