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Resuscitated Newborns at Risk for Lower IQs
Date:4/20/2009

Even infants without neurological symptoms have higher chance of problems, researchers say,,,,

MONDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- Newborns who were not breathing at birth and had to be resuscitated have an increased risk of having a low IQ, even if they showed no signs of mental problems in early infancy, British researchers report.

It has been thought that when the cause of the mental retardation and cerebral palsy is a period of lack of oxygen, newborns will show signs of brain damage immediately following birth called encephalopathy. The signs of encephalopathy can be seizures, abnormalities of muscle tone, abnormal movements and/or an abnormal mental state. It has also been assumed that newborns who require resuscitation at birth but are free of encephalopathy will have normal growth and development.

"It was felt that if infants were neurologically normal after resuscitation, then they were going to do OK later," said Dr. Maureen Hack, from Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and author of an accompanying journal editorial.

"These researchers found that infants who were asymptomatic had lower IQs than children who needed no resuscitation," Hack said. "Since there are a lot of children who need resuscitation but have no symptoms, there are going to be a lot of children who have lower IQs at school age," she said.

However, Hack does not think the findings of the study are convincing. For example, the differences in IQs between the children who needed resuscitation at birth were not significantly different from those who did not need to be resuscitated, she said.

Despite this, the results seem to make sense, Hack said. One problem is how the effects of low oxygen were evaluated in the study, she noted.

"The neurologic exam after birth is a subjective exam," Hack said. "To say a child is normal or abnormal based on a clinical exam i
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