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Enterovirus and parechovirus meningoencephalitis in infants: A ten-year prospective observational study in a neonatal intensive care unit.

BACKGROUND: Non-polio enteroviruses (EV) and human parechoviruses (HPeV) are known etiological agents of meningoencephalitis in neonates. However, reports of neuroradiological findings and neurodevelopmental outcomes in this population are scarce.

OBJECTIVES: to describe clinical characteristics, neuroradiological findings and, in a subset of patients, neurodevelopmental outcomes in a cohort of infants with EV or HPeV meningoencephalitis within 60 days of life.

STUDY DESIGN: clinical/laboratory data, neuroradiological findings (cranial ultrasound, cUS, brain magnetic resonance imaging, MRI), and neurodevelopmental outcomes assessed by Ages and Stages Questionnaires - third edition were prospectively collected.

RESULTS: overall, 32 infants with EV (21, 67.8 %) or HPeV (11, 28.2 %) meningoencephalitis were enrolled. Infants with HPeV (73 %: type 3 HPeV) presented more frequently with seizures (18.2 % vs. 0, p value=0.03), lymphopenia (1120 vs. 2170 cells/mm3 , p = 0.02), focal anomalies at electroencephalography (EEG) (63.6 vs. 23.8 %, p = 0.03), and pathological findings at MRI (72.7 % vs. 15.8 %, p value=0.004) compared to those affected by EV. cUS was not significantly altered in any of the enrolled infants. All infants with EV meningoencephalitis evaluated at 12-24 months and at 30-48 months were normal. Two out of the 7 infants with HPeV meningoencephalitis showed some concerns in gross motor (1/7, 14.3 %) or in problem solving (1/7, 14.3 %) function at 30-48 months of age.

CONCLUSIONS: In our cohort, neonates infected by HPeV had more severe clinical manifestations, more alterations at brain MRI, and some signs of long-term neurodevelopmental delay. Our data highlight the heterogeneity of manifestations in infants with EV or HPeV meningoencephalitis, and the need for long-term follow-up of those infected by HPeV in the neonatal period.

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