Neuropsychological Outcome After Carbon Monoxide Exposure Following a Storm: A Case-Control Study

Bérengère Pages; Mélanie Planton; Sophie Buys; Béatrice Lemesle; Philippe Birmes; Emmanuel Joseph Barbeau; Stéphanie Maziero; Laurie Cordier; Claudine Cabot; Michèle Puel; Michèle Genestal; François Chollet; Jérémie Pariente


BMC Neurol. 2014;14(153) 

In This Article


The cognitive consequences of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning are well described.[1] They can be observed during the acute phase of the poisoning, after a few days and persist for over a year.[2–6] They mainly involve memory, attention, processing speed and executive functions.[6] However, most studies have been carried out without an ad-hoc group of control subjects, mainly relying on published norms for comparison.[7,8] Interestingly, Deschamps et al. did not evidence any difference between patients and controls when a specific group of controls was recruited.[9] These last studies gathered patients with variable circumstances of CO intoxication, which may be the reason for their heterogeneous results, but which also questions the extent to which results apply to all patients. It was to avoid these limitations that we carried out the present study in a homogenous group of intoxicated patients using rigorously selected control subjects.

The storm Klaus reached the South West of France between 23rd and 25th January 2009 leaving 1,745,000 households without electricity. It is considered to be the most violent storm in France in the past decade, resulting in 1.2 billion Euros of structural damage. Alternative means of heating and lighting, including electricity generators, were used and resulted in increased CO poisoning. 117 persons were poisoned in the Midi-Pyrenean region and referenced by the local specialized center.

The main aim of this study was to evaluate cognitive and psychiatric outcome after CO exposure during the Klaus storm in a homogeneous group of patients and to compare the results with those obtained in a group of controls paired 1:1 to patients for age, gender and education level.