OBJECTIVES: Dorsal-stream functions are vulnerable to early brain injury associated with neonatal encephalopathy (NE) following perinatal asphyxia, even in children not developing cerebral palsy (CP). Since therapeutic hypothermia (TH) became the standard treatment for NE, the incidence of CP is reduced but the impact on dorsal-stream functions is unknown. We aimed to compare dorsal-stream functions in TH-treated survivors of NE, without CP, with those of matched controls.
METHODS: We administered tests of dorsal-stream function to 29 case children aged 6-to-8 years treated with TH for NE and without CP, and 20 age, sex and social class matched controls. We used the Conner's Continuous Performance Test (CPT) 2nd Edition to assess attentiveness, based upon Hit Reaction Time (HRT) percentile score and HRT standard error percentile, the CPT HRT block change measure to assess sustained attention and the NEPSY-II block construction and arrows tests to assess visuo-spatial performance and mental rotation.
RESULTS: Case children performed significantly worse than controls on measures of attention and visuo-spatial function.
CONCLUSIONS: Children given TH treatment for NE can have subtle attention difficulties with slower reaction times and reduced visuo-spatial processing. These findings illustrate the continued vulnerability of dorsal-stream functions following NE despite the use of TH.
- dorsal stream
- Neonatal encephalopathy
- therapeutic hypothermia
- visuo-spatial function