Risk factors for unfavorable outcome at discharge of newborns with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in the era of hypothermia


Objective: To re-visit short-term outcomes and associated risk factors of newborns with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) in an era where hypothermia treatment (HT) is widespread.

Methods: This is a prospective population-based cohort in French neonatal intensive care units (NICU). Neonates born at or after 34 weeks of gestational age with HIE were included; main outcomes were in-hospital death and discharge with abnormal or normal MRI. Associations of early perinatal risk factors, present at birth or at admission to NICU, with these outcomes were studied.

Results: A total of 794 newborns were included and HT was administered to 670 (84.4%); 18.3% died and 28.5% and 53.2% survived with abnormal and normal MRI, respectively. Severe neurological status, Apgar score at 5 mn ≤5, lactate at birth ≥11 mMoles/l, and glycemia ≥100 mg/dL at admission were associated with an increased risk of death (relative risk ratios (aRRR) (95% CI) 19.93 (10.00-39.70), 2.89 (1.22-1.62), 3.06 (1.60-5.83), and 2.55 (1.38-4.71), respectively). Neurological status only was associated with survival with abnormal MRI (aRRR (95% CI) 1.76 (1.15-2.68)).

Conclusion: Despite high use of HT in this cohort, 46.8% died or presented brain lesions. Early neurological and biological examinations were associated with unfavorable outcomes and these criteria could be used to target children who warrant further neuroprotective treatment.

Trial registration: Clinical trial registry, NCT02676063, ClinicalTrials.gov.

Impact: In this population-based cohort of newborns with HIE where 84% received hypothermia, 46.8% still had an unfavorable evolution (death or survival with abnormal MRI). Risk factors for death were high lactate, low Apgar score, severe early neurological examination, and high glycaemia. While studies have established risk factors for HIE, few have focused on early perinatal factors associated with short-term prognosis. This French population-based cohort updates knowledge about early risk factors for adverse outcomes in the era of widespread cooling. In the future, criteria associated with an unfavorable evolution could be used to target children who would benefit from another neuroprotective strategy with hypothermia.