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Infant Meningitis Affects Achievement Later in Life

Patients with bacterial meningitis should be given ongoing supervision and assessment

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Meningitis in infancy can adversely affect academic achievement later in life, with almost half of children failing to attain the national educational standard as teenagers, according to a U.K. study published online March 22 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

John de Louvois, of the Imperial College School of Medicine in London, U.K., and colleagues analyzed data from 461 teenagers who had contracted bacterial meningitis in infancy, as well as 289 controls. They compared the type of school attended, number of General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examinations that were attempted and the number of subjects in which they attained a pass grade.

Whereas none of the control subjects were attending special schools, 36 (7.8 percent) of the meningitis cases were, and 117 (25.4 percent) failed to attain a pass grade in any GCSE, compared with 19 (6.6 percent) of the controls. The U.K. national educational standard is five GCSE passes with a grade "C" or better, but 184 (47.8 percent) of the meningitis cases failed to attain this level, compared with 59 (25.4 percent) of the control group.

"The adverse consequences of infantile meningitis reported when our study group was 5 and 13 years old clearly extend into adult life and seriously affect educational achievement," the authors conclude. "It is essential that all cases of bacterial meningitis occurring during the first year of life are followed up fully so that children who require educational and other support are recognized at an early age.

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