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Association between newborn screening analytes and hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy

Wilson LA, Fell DB, Hawken S, Wong CA, Murphy MSQ, Little J, Potter BK, Walker M, Lacaze-Masmonteil T, Juul S, Chakraborty P, Wilson K. Sci Rep. 2019; 9(1):15704. Epub 2019 Oct 31. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51919-x


Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a major cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity. Our study sought to examine whether patterns of newborn screening analytes differed between infants with and without neonatal HIE in order to identify opportunities for potential use of these analytes for diagnosis in routine clinical practice. We linked a population-based newborn screening registry with health databases to identify cases of HIE among term infants (≥37 weeks’ gestation) in Ontario from 2010–2015. Correlations between HIE and screening analytes were examined using multivariable logistic regression models containing clinical factors and individual screening analytes (acyl-carnitines, amino acids, fetal-to-adult hemoglobin ratio, endocrine markers, and enzymes). Among 731,841 term infants, 3,010 were diagnosed with HIE during the neonatal period. Multivariable models indicated that clinical variables alone or in combination with hemoglobin values were not associated with HIE diagnosis. Although the model was improved after adding acyl-carnitines and amino acids, the ability of the model to identify infants with HIE was moderate. Our findings indicate that analytes associated with catabolic stress were altered in infants with HIE; however, future research is required to determine whether amino acid and acyl-carnitine profiles could hold clinical utility in the early diagnosis or clinical management of HIE. In particular, further research should examine whether cord blood analyses can be used to identify HIE within a clinically useful timeframe or to guide treatment and predict long-term health outcomes.

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