Neurological and neurodevelopmental outcomes after human parechovirus CNS infection in neonates and young children: a systematic review and meta-analysis

MT van Hinsbergh, R. Elbers, H. Ket, AM Tutu-van Furth, CC Obihara

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Background: Human parechoviruses are a major cause of CNS infection in neonates and young children. They have been implicated in neurological sequelae and neurodevelopmental delay. However, the magnitude of this effect has not been systematically reviewed or assessed with meta-analyses. We investigated short-term, medium-term, and long-term neurological sequelae and neurodevelopmental delay in neonates and young children after parechovirus-CNS-infection. Methods: In this systematic review and meta-analyses of studies, we searched PubMed, Embase, and PsycInfo, from the inception of the database until March 18, 2019, for reviews, systematic reviews, cohort studies, case series, and case control studies reporting on neurological or neurodevelopmental outcomes of children 3 months or younger with parechovirus infection of the CNS. Studies that were published after Dec 31, 2007, assessed children younger than 16 years, detailed parechoviruses infection of the CNS (confirmed by PCR), and followed up on neurological and neurodevelopmental outcomes were included. Studies published before Dec 31, 2007, were excluded. The predefined primary outcomes were the proportions of children with neurological sequelae, impairment in auditory or visual functions, or gross motor function delay. The proportion of children in whom neurological or neurodevelopmental outcomes were reported was pooled in meta-analyses. For each outcome variable we calculated the pooled proportion with 95% CI. The proportion of children in whom neurological or neurodevelopmental outcomes were reported was extracted by one author and checked by another. Two authors independently assessed the methodological quality of the studies. Findings: 20 studies were eligible for quantitative synthesis. The meta-analyses showed an increasing proportion of children with neurological sequelae over time: 5% during short-term follow-up (pooled proportion 0·05 [95% CI 0·03–0·08], I2=0·00%; p=0·83) increasing to 27% during long-term follow-up (0·27 [0·17–0·40], I2=52·74%; p=0·026). The proportion of children with suspected neurodevelopmental delay was 9% or more during long-term follow-up. High heterogeneity and methodological issues in the included studies mean that the results should be interpreted with caution. Interpretation: This systematic review suggests the importance of long follow-up, preferably up to preschool or school age (5–6 years), of children with parechovirus infection of the CNS. Although not clinically severe, we found an increasing proportion of neonates and young children with CNS infection had associated neurological sequelae and neurodevelopmental delay over time. We recommend the use of standardised methods to assess neurological and neurodevelopmental functions of these children and to compare results with age-matched reference groups. Funding: No funding was received for this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)592-605
Number of pages14
JournalThe Lancet Child and Adolescent Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

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