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Malar J. 2018 May 22;17(1):208. doi: 10.1186/s12936-018-2355-9.

Admission EEG findings in diverse paediatric cerebral malaria populations predict outcomes.

Author information

International Neurologic and Psychiatric Epidemiology Program, Michigan State University, 909 Fee Road, 324 West Fee Hall, East Lansing, MI, 48824, USA.
Department of Neurology, Children's National Health System, 111 Michigan Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20010, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Michigan State University, 909 Fee Road, Room B601, East Lansing, MI, 48824, USA.
Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University, 4940 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD, 21224, USA.
Blantyre Malaria Project, University of Malawi College of Medicine, Blantyre, Malawi.
Department of Osteopathic Medical Specialties, College of Osteopathic Medicine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, 48824, USA.
Department of Neurology, Children's National Health System, 111 Michigan Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20010, USA.
Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Makerere University College of Health Sciences, Kampala, Uganda.
Indiana University School of Medicine, 1044 W. Walnut Street, Rm 402-D, Indianapolis, IN, 46202, USA.
Epilepsy Division, Department of Neurology, University of Rochester, 265 Crittenden Blvd, CU 420694, Rochester, NY, 14642, USA.
UTH Neurology Research Office, Nationalist Rd, PO Box UTH 11, Lusaka, Zambia.



Electroencephalography at hospital presentation may offer important insights regarding prognosis that can inform understanding of cerebral malaria (CM) pathophysiology and potentially guide patient selection and risk stratification for future clinical trials. Electroencephalogram (EEG) findings in children with CM in Uganda and Malawi were compared and associations between admission EEG findings and outcome across this diverse population were assessed. Demographic, clinical and admission EEG data from Ugandan and Malawian children admitted from 2009 to 2012 with CM were gathered, and survivors assessed for neurological abnormalities at discharge.


281 children were enrolled (Uganda n = 122, Malawi n = 159). The Malawian population was comprised only of retinopathy positive children (versus 72.5% retinopathy positive in Uganda) and were older (4.2 versus 3.7 years; p = 0.046), had a higher HIV prevalence (9.0 versus 2.8%; p = 0.042), and worse hyperlactataemia (7.4 versus 5.2 mmol/L; p < 0.001) on admission compared to the Ugandan children. EEG findings differed between the two groups in terms of average voltage and frequencies, reactivity, asymmetry, and the presence/absence of sleep architecture. In univariate analyses pooling EEG and outcomes data for both sites, higher average and maximum voltages, faster dominant frequencies, and retained reactivity were associated with survival (all p < 0.05). Focal slowing was associated with death (OR 2.93; 95% CI 1.77-7.30) and a lower average voltage was associated with neurological morbidity in survivors (p = 0.0032).


Despite substantial demographic and clinical heterogeneity between subjects in Malawi and Uganda as well as different EEG readers at each site, EEG findings on admission predicted mortality and morbidity. For CM clinical trials aimed at decreasing mortality or morbidity, EEG may be valuable for risk stratification and/or subject selection.


Africa; Malaria; Malawi; Paediatrics; Uganda

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