Early studies following perinatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) suggested expressive language deficits and academic difficulties, but there is only limited detailed study of language development in this population since the widespread adoption of therapeutic hypothermia (TH). Expressive and receptive language testing was performed as part of a larger battery with 45 children with a mean age of 26 months following perinatal HIE treated with TH. Overall cohort outcomes as well as the effects of gender, estimated household income, initial pH and base excess, and pattern of injury on neonatal brain MRI were assessed. The cohort overall demonstrated expressive language subscore, visual-reception subscore, and early learning composite scores significantly below test norms, with relative sparing of receptive language subscores. Poorer expressive language manifested as decreased vocabulary size and shorter utterances. Expressive language subscores showed a significant gender effect, and estimated socioeconomic status showed a significant effect on both receptive and expressive language subscores. Initial blood gas markers and modified Sarnat scoring did not show a significant effect on language subscores. Binarized MRI abnormality predicted a significant effect on both receptive and expressive language subscores; the presence of specific cortical/subcortical abnormalities predicted receptive language deficits. Overall, the language development profile of children following HIE in the era of hypothermia shows a relative strength in receptive language. Gender and socioeconomic status predominantly predict expressive language deficits; abnormalities detectable on MRI predominantly predict receptive language deficits.
- Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy
- Language development
- Therapeutic hypothermia
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience