Neonatal encephalopathy

Neonatal Encephalopathy (NE) is a clinically defined syndrome of disturbed neurological function in the earliest days of life in the term infant, manifested by difficulty initiating and maintaining respiration, depression of tone and reflexes, sub normal level of consciousness and often seizures.

There are many potential causes of neonatal encephalopathy, the commonest of which is a hypoxic-ischaemic insult.  However it is not always possible to document a clear hypoxic-ischaemic episode during labour, and several other important aetiologies should be considered.

Other causes of NE include:

  • infection
  • perinatal stroke
  • intracranial haemorrhage
  • congenital brain malformations
  • inborn errors of metabolism
  • genetic syndromes

Investigation of these conditions will depend on the presentation, history and clinical presentation of individual cases.


Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy

Further reading: Clinical Guideline: Guidelines for Management of Infants with Suspected Hypoxic Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE)