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February 1989

Prognostic Value of Electrically Elicited Blink Reflex in Neonates

Arch Neurol. 1989;46(2):189-194. doi:10.1001/archneur.1989.00520380095020

• The electrically elicited blink reflex (BR) was evaluated in 80 normal neonates and 12 neonates with neurologic abnormalities. In normal subjects, R1 and bilateral R2 responses were elicited both while awake and in a quiet sleep state. Whereas the R1 response was consistently elicited in the active sleep state, as well as while awake, the ipsilateral R2 response was markedly suppressed and the contralateral R2 response was almost absent. The BR in neonates with neurologic abnormalities showed the following variable results: normal, prolonged latency, or suppressed response at initial recording. Abnormal BRs were detected in most neonates with respiratory or sucking problems. While neonates in whom a suppressed response or prolonged latency persisted for over three months had a poor prognosis, those with normal BRs or early correction of the BR abnormality had almost normal development. The BR appears to be useful not only to evaluate brain-stem function in the neonatal period but also to predict subsequent outcome.