A new approach for neurological evaluation of infants in resource-poor settings.
Haataja L., McGready R., Arunjerdja R., Simpson JA., Mercuri E., Nosten F., Dubowitz L.
Research assessing the neurological development of infants in developing countries is scanty as no suitable standardised tests are available for field-use in constrained circumstances. We describe the development and application of two simple assessments. Firstly, we aimed to develop a test suitable for assessing acute neurological disturbances caused by such diverse effects as infections, drugs or toxins. This test (Shoklo Neurological Test) is aimed at infants between 9 and 36 months. The second test (Shoklo Developmental Test) is aimed not only to follow the evolution of the signs tested initially in the acute phase but also to evaluate later neurodevelopmental sequelae which might be caused by the same events. The latter test is suitable for infants aged from 3 to 12 months. Both tests can be performed easily in non-optimal conditions. The examinations were tested in a cohort of infants from a Karen refugee camp and administered in a rural setting by health workers, after appropriate training. In order to validate the tests we also applied them to a cohort of London infants. The Griffiths Developmental Scales were applied in the same infants and both the Shoklo Neurological and the Shoklo Developmental Tests showed good correlation with this standardised neurodevelopmental assessment.