Predictors of neurocognition outcomes in children and young people with primary brain tumor presenting to tertiary care hospitals of Karachi, Pakistan: A prospective cohort study

Document Type



Surgery; Community Health Sciences; Haematology/Oncology; Psychiatry; Women and Child Health


Introduction: Primary brain tumors are a common cause of morbidity and mortality in children and young people (CYP) globally. Impaired neurocognitive function is a potential severe consequence in primary brain tumor (PBT) survivors. There are no in-depth studies from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to inform management and follow-up. The research questions of this study were as follows: Are the sociodemographic factors (lower age of CYP, female gender, low socioeconomic status, low parental education), disease-related factors (high grade of tumor, presence of seizures, presence of hydrocephalous), and treatment-related factors (adjuvant therapy, no surgical intervention, post-treatment seizures, placement of shunts) associated with decline in neurcognition outcomes 12 months post-treatment in CYP with PBTs?
Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted from November 2020 to July 2023 at the Aga Khan University Hospital and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, tertiary care hospitals in Karachi, Pakistan. All CYP aged 5 to 21 years with a newly diagnosed PBTs were eligible. The neurocognition assessment was undertaken by a psychologist at two points, i.e., pre-treatment and at 12 months post-treatment using validated tools. The verbal intelligence was assessed by Slosson Intelligence tool, revised 3rd edition (SIT-R3), perceptual reasoning by Raven's Progressive Matrices (RPM), and the Processing Speed Index by Wechsler Intelligence Scale (WISC V) and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-IV). The data were analyzed by STATA version 12 software. Generalized estimating equation (GEE) was used to determine the factors associated with the mean change in 12 months post-treatment verbal and non-verbal neurocognition scores. Unadjusted and adjusted beta coefficients with their 95% confidence intervals were reported.
Results: A total of 48 CYPs with PBTs were enrolled, 23 (48%) of them were lost to follow-up and 10 (21%) died. The remaining 25 (52%) were reassessed 12 months after treatment. On multivariable analysis, a significant decline in verbal intelligence scores at 12 months was predicted by post-treatment seizures beta = - 20.8 (95% CI, - 38.2, - 3.4), mothers having no formal educational status and lower household monthly income. Similarly, a significant decline in perceptual reasoning scores was also predicted by post-treatment seizures beta = - 10.7 (95% CI, - 20.6, - 0.8), mothers having no formal education and having lower household monthly income. Worsening of processing speed scores at 12 months post-treatment were predicted by tumor histology, post-treatment seizures beta = - 33.9 (95% CI, - 47.7, - 20.0), lower educational status of the mother, and having lower household monthly. However, an improvement was seen in processing speed scores after surgical tumor resection.
Conclusion: In this novel study, the post-treatment mean change in verbal and non-verbal neurocognition scores was associated with sociodemographic, tumor, and treatment factors. These findings may have potential implications for targeted early psychological screening of higher risk CYP with PBTs. Identification of these predictors may serve as a foundation for developing more cost-effective treatment thereby alleviating the burden of neurocognitive morbidity. However to establish generalizability, future research should prioritize larger-scale, multicountry studies. (Trial registration: Identifier: NCT05709522).


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Publication (Name of Journal)

Child's Nervous System