Patients with arterial perinatal stroke often suffer long-term motor sequelae, difficulties in language, social development, and behaviour as well as epilepsy. Despite homogeneous lesions, long-term behavioural and cognitive outcomes are variable and unpredictable. Sleep-related epileptic encephalopathies can occur after early brain injury and are associated with global developmental delays. We hypothesized that sleep-potentiated epileptiform abnormalities are associated with worse developmental outcomes after perinatal stroke.
Participants were identified from a population-based cohort (Alberta Perinatal Stroke Project). Inclusion criteria were magnetic resonance imaging–confirmed arterial perinatal stroke, age 4 to 18 years, electroencephalogram (EEG) including sleep, and comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation. Sleep-related EEG abnormalities were categorized by an epileptologist blinded to the cognitive outcome. Associations between EEG classification and neuropsychological outcomes were explored (t tests, Bonferroni correction for multiple comparisons).
Of 128 potentially eligible participants, 34 (53% female) had complete EEG (mean age, 8.1 years; range, 0.2-16.4) and neuropsychology testing (mean age, 9.8 years; range 4.4-16.7). Twelve (35%) were classified as having electrical status epilepticus in sleep. Patients with abnormal EEGs were more likely to have statistically worse scores when corrected for multiple comparisons, in receptive language (median, 1st percentile; IQR 1-7th percentile; p<0.05), and externalizing behaviours (median, 82nd percentile; IQR, 79-97th percentile; p<0.05).
Developmental outcome in language and behaviour in children with arterial perinatal stroke is associated with electrical status epilepticus in sleep. Increased screening with sleep EEG is suggested, whereas further studies are necessary to determine if treatment of EEG abnormalities can improve outcome.