Childhood meningitis associated with lower levels of educational achievement

April 23, 2013, The JAMA Network Journals

In a study that included nearly 3,000 adults from Denmark, a diagnosis of meningococcal, pneumococcal, or Haemophilus influenzae meningitis in childhood was associated with lower educational achievement and economic self-sufficiency in adult life, according to a study in the April 24 issue of JAMA.

Bacterial meningitis may lead to due to several factors, and survivors of childhood bacterial meningitis are at particular risk of hearing loss, , motor deficits, and . Learning disabilities are well documented as a result of the disease. "To our knowledge, no previous study has examined functioning in adult life among persons diagnosed as having bacterial meningitis in childhood," the authors write.

Casper Roed, M.D., of Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues conducted a study to estimate educational achievement and economic self-sufficiency among children surviving compared with the general population. The nationwide population-based cohort study used national registries of Danish-born children diagnosed as having meningococcal, pneumococcal, or H influenzae meningitis in the period 1977-2007 (n=2,784 patients). Comparison cohorts from the same population individually matched on age and sex were identified, as were siblings of all . The end of the study period was 2010. The primary measured outcomes were cumulative incidences of completed vocational education, , higher education, time to first full year of economic self-sufficiency, and receipt of disability pension and differences in these outcomes at age 35 years among meningitis patients, comparison cohorts, and siblings.

The study included persons who had a history of childhood meningococcal (n=1,338), pneumococcal (n=455), and H influenzae (n=991) meningitis. Among meningococcal meningitis patients, an estimated 11.0 percent fewer (41.5 percent vs. 52.5 percent) had completed high school and 7.9 percent fewer (29.3 percent vs. 37.2 percent) had obtained a higher education by age 35 compared with members of the population comparison cohort. For pneumococcal meningitis patients, by age 35, an estimated 10.2 percent fewer (42.6 percent vs. 52.8 percent) and 8.9 percent fewer (28.1 percent vs. 37.0 percent) had completed high school and higher education compared with members of the population comparison cohort.

Among H influenzae meningitis patients, 5.5 percent fewer (47.7 percent vs. 53.2 percent) had completed high school and 6.5 percent fewer (33.5 percent vs. 40.0 percent) had completed higher education by age 35 years compared with members of the population comparison cohort.

The authors also found that at end of follow-up, an estimated 3.8 percent, 10.6 percent, and 4.3 percent fewer meningococcal, pneumococcal, and H influenzae meningitis patients, respectively, had been economically self-sufficient compared with the individuals from the comparison cohort, and 1.5 percent, 8.7 percent, and 3.7 percent, respectively, more patients received disability pension.

"Siblings of meningococcal meningitis patients also had lower educational achievements, while educational achievements of siblings of pneumococcal and H influenzae meningitis patients did not differ substantially from those in the general population," the researchers write.

These findings suggest that the association with lower educational achievement and economic self-sufficiency in may apply particularly to pneumococcal and H influenzae meningitis, whereas for meningococcal meningitis the lower may be family related.

"Our study suggests that children diagnosed as having pneumococcal or H influenzae meningitis may benefit from follow-up into adulthood to identify those who could potentially benefit from psychosocial support."

Explore further: A new strategy for developing meningitis vaccines

More information: JAMA. 2013;309(16):1714-1721

Related Stories

A new strategy for developing meningitis vaccines

May 24, 2012
Bacterial meningitis is an infection of the meninges, the protective membrane that covers the spinal cord and brain. Children, elderly patients and immunocompromised patients are at a higher risk for the development of severe ...

Recommended for you

PET scans to optimize tuberculosis meningitis treatments and personalize care, study finds

December 6, 2018
Although relatively rare in the United States, and accounting for fewer than 5 percent of tuberculosis cases worldwide, TB of the brain—or tuberculosis meningitis (TBM)—is often deadly, always hard to treat, and a particular ...

Silicosis is on the rise, but is there a therapeutic target?

December 6, 2018
Researchers from the CNRS, the University of Orléans, and the company Artimmune, in collaboration with Turkish clinicians from Atatürk University, have identified a key mechanism of lung inflammation induced by silica exposure, ...

Infectivity of different HIV-1 strains may depend on which cell receptors they target

December 6, 2018
Distinct HIV-1 strains may differ in the nature of the CCR5 molecules to which they bind, affecting which cells they can infect and their ability to enter cells, according to a study published December 6 in the open-access ...

Protecting cell powerhouse paves way to better treatment of acute kidney injury

December 6, 2018
For the first time, scientists have described the body's natural mechanism for temporarily protecting the powerhouses of kidney cells when injury or disease means they aren't getting enough blood or oxygen.

New study uncovers why Rift Valley fever is catastrophic to developing fetuses

December 5, 2018
Like Zika, infection with Rift Valley fever virus can go unnoticed during pregnancy, all the while doing irreparable—often lethal—harm to the fetus. The results of a new study, led by researchers at the University of ...

Study highlights potential role of bioaerosol sampling to address airborne biological threats

December 5, 2018
As a leading global city with a high population density, Singapore is vulnerable to the introduction of biological threats. Initiating an early emergency response to such threats calls for the rapid identification of the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.