Epilepsy occurrence after neonatal morbidities in very preterm infants

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Objective: This study investigated the incidence of epilepsy and identified neonatal risk morbidities for epilepsy in children born extremely preterm. Methods: Of the 806 very preterm infants (birth weight < 1500 g, gestational age < 32 weeks) who survived and were discharged from the four neonatal intensive care units in southern Taiwan between 2003 and 2012, 686 (85.1%) had longitudinal neurodevelopmental follow-up assessments up to 5 years of age. Results: Among the 686 very preterm children, 19 (2.8%) exhibited epilepsy at a mean age of 19 ± 14 months. The incidence of epilepsy was highest among infants with neonatal seizure (33%), followed by cystic periventricular leukomalacia (cPVL, 27%), high-grade intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH, 21%), and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) stage III (20%). NEC stage III, neonatal seizure, high-grade IVH, and cPVL were also independent neonatal risk morbidities for epilepsy. Furthermore, the incidence of epilepsy was 21.6% in preterm children with significant neonatal brain injury (SNBI; ie, high-grade IVH and cPVL), but only 1% in preterm children without SNBI. Among preterm children with SNBI, neonatal seizure was higher in preterm children with epilepsy than in those without epilepsy (23.1% vs 2.1%, P =.03). Among preterm children without SNBI, NEC stage III was higher in preterm children with epilepsy than in those without epilepsy (33.3% vs 1.8%, P <.01). The preterm children with epilepsy were prone to have neurodevelopmental disability regardless of whether they had neonatal brain injury, and drug-resistant epilepsy (42%), particularly those with neonatal high-grade IVH. Significance: There is an elevated incidence of epilepsy among very preterm children, and particularly those with significant brain injury and/or severe NEC during the neonatal period. Very preterm children with epilepsy are prone to have neurodevelopmental disability and drug-resistant epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2086-2094
Number of pages9
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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