Few studies on the consequences following newborn hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (NHIE) assess the risk of mood disorders (MD), although these are prevalent after ischemic brain injury in adults.
To study the presence of MD in children survivors of NHIE.
14 children survivors of NHIE treated with hypothermia and without cerebral palsy and 15 healthy children without perinatal complications were studied aged three to six years for developmental status (Ages and Stages Questionnaire 3 [ASQ-3]) and for socio-emotional status (Preschool Symptom Self-Report [PRESS] and Child Behavior Checklist [CBCL] 1.5-5 tests). Maternal depression was assessed using Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). Socio-economic factors such as parental educational level or monthly income were also studied.
NHIE children did not present delay but scored worse than healthy children for all ASQ3 items. NHIE children showed higher scores than healthy children for PRESS as well as for anxious/depressive symptoms and aggressive behavior items of CBCL. In addition, in three NHIE children the CBCL anxious/depressive symptoms item score exceeded the cutoff value for frank pathology (P = 0.04 vs healthy children). There were no differences in the other CBCL items as well as in maternal MADRS or parental educational level or monthly income. Neither ASQ3 scores nor MADRS score or socio-economic factors correlated with PRESS or CBCL scores.
In this exploratory study children survivors of NHIE showed increased risk of developing mood disturbances, in accordance with that reported for adults after brain ischemic insults. Considering the potential consequences, such a possibility warrants further research.