Neonatal encephalopathy has been defined as “a clinically defined syndrome of disturbed neurological function in the earliest days of life in the term infant, manifested by difficulty with initiating and maintaining respiration, depression of tone and reflexes, sub normal level of consciousness and often seizures”. It occurs in about 2–3 per 1000 births in developed countries. In developing countries, neonatal encephalopathy accounts for the largest number of deaths in infancy and childhood – approximately 1 million per year worldwide. Neonatal encephalopathy is associated with significant morbidity and mortality and is an important predictor of long term neurodevelopmental disability in near- and full-term newborn infants. Fifteen to 20 percent of infants with neonatal encephalopathy die in the neonatal period, and a further 25 percent have permanent neurologic deficits.
(Online publication May 19 2010)