Brain injury in the term infant

Neonatal encephalopathy


Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is defined as a 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.


The terminology NE is preferred to Hypoxic-Ischaemic Encephalopathy (HIE) as it is not always possible to document a significant hypoxic-ischaemic insult and there are several other important causes of NE in the term infant. 

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.