Utility of brainstem auditory evoked potentials in children with spastic cerebral palsy.
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Acta Paediatr 89 (2): 194--197 (February 2000)

In a retrospective study of 75 children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP), brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP) were recorded and subsequently correlated with birthweight, gestational age, aetiology and type of CP, neuroradiological findings, additional impairments and disabilities (including the inability to walk independently). Seventeen patients (22.7\%) had abnormal BAEP recordings. Thirteen of these 17 patients (76.5\%) had spastic tetraplegia, 16 patients (94.1\%) were full-term infants, 12 patients (70.6\%) had myoskeletal problems, 9 (52.9\%) had epilepsy, 16 (94.1\%) had visual impairment, 13 patients (76.5\%) were unable to walk independently, while all 17 patients (100\%) had speech impairment and mental retardation. The aetiology of CP was prenatal in 2 of these 17 patients (11.8\%) and perinatal in 15 patients (88.2\%). Thirteen patients (76.5\%) had cortical atrophy determined by either computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, two patients (11.8\%) had an infarct picture and two patients (11.8\%) had maldevelopment of the central nervous system. There was a definite statistically significant association between abnormal BAEP recordings and full-term delivery, perinatal aetiology of CP, spastic tetraplegia, speech, visual and myoskeletal impairments, epilepsy, mental retardation, inability to walk independently and cortical atrophy on neuroimaging (p < 0.001). We conclude that abnormal BAEP recordings in children with spastic CP are indicative of poor prognosis and associated with a "multihandicap state". BAEP testing should be incorporated into the diagnostic plan of all children with spastic CP newly referred to neurodevelopmental centres.
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