Neonatal neurological testing in resource-poor settings.
McGready R., Simpson J., Panyavudhikrai S., Loo S., Mercuri E., Haataja L., Kolatat T., Nosten F., Dubowitz L.
The aim of the study was to design and test a neurological examination for newborns that could be performed reliably by paramedical staff in resource-poor settings. The examination was adapted from a method established by Dubowitz et al., the latest version of which includes an optimality score. The final items in the test were chosen because they were culturally acceptable, could be elicited according to strict but easily comprehensible instructions and because the expected responses could be scored by the descriptions given or by diagrams in the proforma. The shortened examination was easily taught to paramedical staff who achieved a high degree of inter-observer reliability. This shortened version of the examination was piloted by comparing newborns from a Karen refugee camp on the western border of Thailand and from a large maternity hospital in Bangkok with a standardized cohort of newborns in London. The modified shortened version of the test was sufficiently sensitive to identify a number of differences between the cohorts, notably the poor vision performance and markedly reduced tone of the Karen newborns. In conclusion, the test can be used very reliably by paramedical staff and is a useful, simple and portable tool for the neurological assessment of newborn babies where resources are limited.