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Open Access Research article

Apgar score and hospitalization for epilepsy in childhood: a registry-based cohort study

Vera Ehrenstein12*, Henrik T Sørensen12, Lars Pedersen2, Helle Larsen3, Vibeke Holsteen4 and Kenneth J Rothman1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

2 Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark

3 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Aalborg Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark

4 Department of Pediatrics, Aalborg Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:23  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-23

Published: 1 February 2006

Abstract

Background

A depressed Apgar score at 5 minutes is a marker for perinatal insults, including neurologic damage. We examined the association between 5-minute Apgar score and the risk of epilepsy hospitalization in childhood.

Methods

Using records linked from population registries, we conducted a cohort study among singleton children born alive in the period 1978–2001 in North Jutland County, Denmark. The first hospital discharge diagnosis of epilepsy during the follow-up time was the main outcome. We followed each child for up to 12 years, calculated absolute risks and risk differences, and used a Poisson regression model to estimate risk ratios for epilepsy hospitalization. We adjusted risk ratio estimates for birth weight, gestational age, mode of delivery, birth presentation, mother's age at delivery, and birth defects.

Results

One percent of the 131,853 eligible newborns had a 5-minute Apgar score <7. These children were more likely to be hospitalized with epilepsy during the follow-up than were children with an Apgar score of 7 or greater. The crude risk difference for epilepsy hospitalization was 2.5 cases per 100 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3 to 3.8). The risk difference estimates were greater in the presence of other perinatal risk factors. The adjusted risk ratio was 2.4 (95% CI 1.5 to 3.8). Half of the 12-year risk for epilepsy hospitalization in those with a depressed Apgar score occurred during the first year of life. The risk ratio during the first year of life was 4.9 (95% CI 2.0 to 12.3).

Conclusion

An Apgar score <7 at five minutes predicts an increase in the subsequent risk of epilepsy hospitalization. This association is amplified by other perinatal risk factors.