Neonatal sleep-wake analyses predict 18-month neurodevelopmental outcomes

Renée A. Shellhaas, Joseph W. Burns, Fauziya Hassan, Martha D. Carlson, John D.E. Barks, Ronald D. Chervin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Objectives: The neurological examination of critically ill neonates is largely limited to reflexive behavior. The exam often ignores sleep-wake physiology that may reflect brain integrity and influence long-term outcomes. We assessed whether polysomnography and concurrent cerebral near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) might improve prediction of 18-month neurodevelopmental outcomes. Methods: Term newborns with suspected seizures underwent standardized neurologic examinations to generate Thompson scores and had 12-hour bedside polysomnography with concurrent cerebral NIRS. For each infant, the distribution of sleep-wake stages and electroencephalogram delta power were computed. NIRS-derived fractional tissue oxygen extraction (FTOE) was calculated across sleep-wake stages. At age 18-22 months, surviving participants were evaluated with Bayley Scales of Infant Development (Bayley-III), 3rd edition. Results: Twenty-nine participants completed Bayley-III. Increased newborn time in quiet sleep predicted worse 18-month cognitive and motor scores (robust regression models, adjusted r2 = 0.22, p = .007, and 0.27, .004, respectively). Decreased 0.5-2 Hz electroencephalograph (EEG) power during quiet sleep predicted worse 18-month language and motor scores (adjusted r2 = 0.25, p = .0005, and 0.33, .001, respectively). Predictive values remained significant after adjustment for neonatal Thompson scores or exposure to phenobarbital. Similarly, an attenuated difference in FTOE, between neonatal wakefulness and quiet sleep, predicted worse 18-month cognitive, language, and motor scores in adjusted analyses (each p < .05). Conclusions: These prospective, longitudinal data suggest that inefficient neonatal sleep-as quantified by increased time in quiet sleep, lower electroencephalogram delta power during that stage, and muted differences in FTOE between quiet sleep and wakefulness-may improve prediction of adverse long-term outcomes for newborns with neurological dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberzsx144
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Neonatal intensive care
  • Neonatal polysomnography
  • Neurodevelopmental outcomes


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