Neonatal Encephalopathy in Calves Presented to a University Hospital

A. W. Bianco, G. E. Moore, S. D. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: While studies have examined bovine dystocia in relation to calf survival, little has been published regarding perinatal morbidity and treatment of newborn calves beyond failure of transfer of passive immunity (FTPI). Neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is a clinical syndrome commonly diagnosed in infants and foals but is poorly described in calves. Hypothesis/Objectives: To identify risk factors for development of NE in calves and factors predictive of survival. Animals: Neonatal calves presented to a University hospital over a 10-year period. Methods: Retrospective cohort study (2005–2015). Medical records of all neonatal calves presented to the hospital were examined, and cases of NE were identified. Data pertaining to demographics, dam parity, labor, treatment, and outcome were collected and analyzed with univariate and multivariate statistics. Results: Of 200 calves in the final analysis, 58 (29%; 95% CI: 22.8–35.8%) were classified as NE and 142 calves as non-NE. In univariate analysis, factors significantly associated with diagnosis of NE included male sex, presence of dystocia, abnormal position in the birth canal, and prolonged labor. In the multivariate model, only orientation of the calf in the birth canal remained significant (OR 2.14; 95% CI: 1.02–4.49; P = 0.044). Overall survival of calves with NE was good (45/58; 77.6%; 95% CI: 64.7–87.5); dam parity and being a twin was significantly associated with nonsurvival. Conclusions: Calves born after dystocia, especially if malpresented, should be closely monitored for nursing behavior within the first 24 hours of life. Prognosis for survival is good, but supportive care might be required for several days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1892-1899
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of veterinary internal medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the medical records department at Purdue University for their assistance. Dr. Moore serves as Consulting Editor for Experimental Design and Statistics for the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. He was not involved in review of this manuscript. Authors declare no off-label use of antimicrobials.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.


  • Bovine
  • Hypoxic
  • Ischemic
  • Weak


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