Admission EEG findings in diverse paediatric cerebral malaria populations predict outcomes

Douglas G. Postels, Xiaoting Wu, Chenxi Li, Peter W. Kaplan, Karl B. Seydel, Terrie E. Taylor, Youssef A. Kousa, Richard Idro, Robert Opoka, Chandy C. John, Gretchen L. Birbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Electroencephalography at hospital presentation may offer important insights regarding prognosis that can inform understanding of cerebral malaria (CM) pathophysiology and potentially guide patient selection and risk stratification for future clinical trials. Electroencephalogram (EEG) findings in children with CM in Uganda and Malawi were compared and associations between admission EEG findings and outcome across this diverse population were assessed. Demographic, clinical and admission EEG data from Ugandan and Malawian children admitted from 2009 to 2012 with CM were gathered, and survivors assessed for neurological abnormalities at discharge. Results: 281 children were enrolled (Uganda n = 122, Malawi n = 159). The Malawian population was comprised only of retinopathy positive children (versus 72.5% retinopathy positive in Uganda) and were older (4.2 versus 3.7 years; p = 0.046), had a higher HIV prevalence (9.0 versus 2.8%; p = 0.042), and worse hyperlactataemia (7.4 versus 5.2 mmol/L; p < 0.001) on admission compared to the Ugandan children. EEG findings differed between the two groups in terms of average voltage and frequencies, reactivity, asymmetry, and the presence/absence of sleep architecture. In univariate analyses pooling EEG and outcomes data for both sites, higher average and maximum voltages, faster dominant frequencies, and retained reactivity were associated with survival (all p < 0.05). Focal slowing was associated with death (OR 2.93; 95% CI 1.77-7.30) and a lower average voltage was associated with neurological morbidity in survivors (p = 0.0032). Conclusions: Despite substantial demographic and clinical heterogeneity between subjects in Malawi and Uganda as well as different EEG readers at each site, EEG findings on admission predicted mortality and morbidity. For CM clinical trials aimed at decreasing mortality or morbidity, EEG may be valuable for risk stratification and/or subject selection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number208
JournalMalaria journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 22 2018


  • Africa
  • Malaria
  • Malawi
  • Paediatrics
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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