BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Severe neonatal anaemia can impair cerebral oxygen supply. Data on long-term outcomes following severe neonatal anaemia are scarce.
METHODS: Clinical data and neurodevelopmental outcome of 49 (near) term infants with haemoglobin concentration after birth <6.0 mmol/l were retrospectively collected and analysed. In a subgroup of 28 patients, amplitude-integrated EEG was available and in 25 infants cerebral MRI was obtained. Infants were followed up at 14-35 months of age and assessed with the Griffiths Scale of Mental Development or Bayley Scale of Infant Development.
RESULTS: Eighteen patients (37%) died during the neonatal period. In 25 patients MRI was performed. A predominant pattern of injury on MRI was seen in the basal ganglia and thalami in 7 patients (28%), whereas some form of white matter injury was present in 16 (64%) and a combination in 3 (12%). Follow-up data were available for 26 patients (84% of survivors). Formal assessment of neurodevelopmental outcome was performed in 20 of 31 (65%) infants who survived (median age: 19 months, range: 14-35). Sixteen infants (80%) had a developmental quotient appropriate for age in the first 2 years after birth. On motor outcome, 1 patient (5%) scored below average (Z-score -1.10). One patient developed cerebral palsy.
CONCLUSION: Early neurodevelopmental outcome in surviving patients with severe neonatal anaemia was within the normal range in the majority of the survivors. MRI showed mild-to-moderate white matter injury in two thirds of the infants. Prospectively collected data with a longer follow-up period are needed.