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AIM—To determine whether
intellectual and cognitive impairments observed seven years following
early childhood bacterial meningitis persist into adolescence.
METHODS—Blinded neuropsychological, auditory, and behaviour assessments were conducted in 109 (69%) subjects from an original cohort of 158 children, seven and 12 years after their meningitis, and in 96controls.
RESULTS—Meningitis subjects remained at greater risk than controls for any disability (odds ratio OR 4.7, confidence interval 2.2to 9.6). Those with acute neurological complications had more sequelae than children with uncomplicated meningitis or controls (47% v 30% v 11.5% respectively; p < 0.001). Differences in intellectual, academic, and high level cognitive function between subjects and controls were maintained at the seven and 12 year assessments. In contrast, lower order skills improved, while behaviour scores deteriorated significantly (p = 0.033).
CONCLUSIONS—Many of the deficits identified at the seven year follow up persist 12 years after an episode of bacterial meningitis.