Incidence, etiology and risk factors of neonatal seizures Harris County, Texas, 1992-1994

Rima Michel Saliba, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This study was conducted to determine the incidence and etiology of neonatal seizures, and evaluate risk factors for this condition in Harris County, Texas, between 1992 and 1994. Potential cases were ascertained from four sources: discharge diagnoses at local hospitals, birth certificates, death certificates, and a clinical study of neonatal seizures conducted concurrent with this study at a large tertiary care center in Houston, Texas. The neonatal period was defined as the first 28 days of life for term infants, and up to 44 weeks gestation for preterm infants. There were 207 cases of neonatal seizures ascertained among 116,048 live births, yielding and incidence of 1.8 per 1000. Half of the seizures occurred by the third day of life, 70% within the first week, and 93% within the first 28 days of life. Among 48 preterm infants with seizures 15 had their initial seizure after the 28th day of life. About 25% of all seizures occurred after discharge from the hospital of birth. Idiopathic seizures occurred most frequently (0.5/1000 births), followed by seizures attributed to perinatal hypoxia/ischemia (0.4/1000 births), intracranial hemorrhage (0.2/1000 births), infection of the central nervous system (0.2/1000 births), and metabolic abnormalities (0.1/1000 births). Risk factors were evaluated based on birth certificate information, using univariate and multivariate analysis (logistic regression). Factors considered included birth weight, gender, ethnicity, place of birth, mother's age, method of delivery, parity, multiple birth and, among term infants, small birth weight for gestational age (SGA). Among preterm infants, very low birth weight (VLBW, $<$1500 grams) was the strongest risk factor, followed by birth in private/university hospitals with a Level III nursery compared with hospitals with a Level II nursery (RR = 2.9), and male sex (RR = 1.8). The effect of very low birth weight varied according to ethnicity. Compared to preterm infants weighing 2000-2999 grams, non-white VLBW infants were 12.0 times as likely to have seizures; whereas white VLBW infants were 2.5 times as likely. Among term infants, significant risk factors included SGA (RR = 1.8), birth in Level III nursery private/university hospitals versus hospitals with Level II nursery (RR = 2.0), and birth by cesarean section (RR = 2.2).

Subject Area

Public health|Neurology

Recommended Citation

Saliba, Rima Michel, "Incidence, etiology and risk factors of neonatal seizures Harris County, Texas, 1992-1994" (1997). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9809550.