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Bacterial Meningitis Puts Kids' Hearing at Risk

One strain of the bug may pose a bigger threat, study shows

TUESDAY, Sept. 19, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Hearing loss is more common in children with a certain type of bacterial meningitis, according to new research.

Bacterial meningitis is the most common reason for acquired hearing loss.

In a new study in the September issue of Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine reviewed the medical records of 171 children admitted to the hospital with bacterial meningitis.

The children underwent hearing tests during their hospital stay.

Almost one-third -- 30.6 percent -- of the children had at least mild hearing loss in one ear. The incidence of hearing loss was 35.9 percent in the children with Streptococcus pneumoniae meningitis, compared with 23.9 percent in those with Neisseria meningitidis meningitis.

The researchers found that length of hospitalization, development of seizures, elevated cerebrospinal fluid protein and a decreased level of cerebrospinal fluid glucose were associated with an increased risk of hearing loss.

"Identification of hearing loss in children with bacterial meningitis and early rehabilitation will lessen the long-term educational and social difficulties these children may experience," the study's authors concluded.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have more about meningitis.

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives, news release, Sept. 18, 2006
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