Parental perception of educational, behavioural and general health problems in school-age survivors of bacterial meningitis

I. Koomen, D. E. Grobbee, A. Jennekens-Schinkel, J. J. Roord, A. Marceline Van Furth

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Aim: To determine the occurrence of educational, behavioural and general health problems in Dutch school-age survivors of bacterial meningitis. Methods: A cohort of 680 school-age survivors of meningitis caused by the most common Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria was established approximately 6 y after the children's illness. Children with Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) meningitis were excluded because this form of the disease has virtually disappeared. Parents completed questionnaires on educational, behavioural and general health problems. The reference group comprised 304 school-age siblings and peers. Results: Postmeningitic children were more likely than controls to under achieve at school: 20% vs 5% (odds ratio 5.6; 95% confidence interval 3.0-10.7). The postmeningitic children repeated a year twice as often as the children in the reference group (16% vs 8%, odds ratio: 2.5, 95% confidence interval 1.5-4.2) and were referred to a special-needs school four times more frequently (8% vs 2%, odds ratio: 5.5; 95% confidence interval 2.0-15.4). Parents also reported more behavioural problems at home. More than half of the postmeningitic children experienced general health problems. The causative pathogen or age at infection had no influence on the relative frequency of educational and behavioural problems, and reduced auditory functioning played only a small part in these problems. Conclusion: Parents perceive educational, behavioural and general health problems in more than 30% of postmeningitic children. Until it is clear which children are at highest risk of developing these problems, it will be necessary to follow postmeningitic children into their school-age years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-185
Number of pages9
JournalActa Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2003


  • Child
  • Follow-up
  • Meningitis
  • Prognosis
  • Sequelae

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