Most of the global neonatal deaths occur in developing nations, mostly in rural homes. Many of the newborns who receive formal medical care are treated in rural district hospitals and other peripheral health centres. However there are no published studies demonstrating trends in neonatal admissions and outcome in rural health care facilities in resource poor regions. Such information is critical in planning public health interventions. In this study we therefore aimed at describing the pattern of neonatal admissions to a Kenyan rural district hospital and their outcome over a 19 year period, examining clinical indicators of inpatient neonatal mortality and also trends in utilization of a rural hospital for deliveries.
Prospectively collected data on neonates is compared to non-neonatal paediatric (≤ 5 years old) admissions and deliveries' in the maternity unit at Kilifi District Hospital from January 1st 1990 up to December 31st 2008, to document the pattern of neonatal admissions, deliveries and changes in inpatient deaths. Trends were examined using time series models with likelihood ratios utilised to identify indicators of inpatient neonatal death.
The proportion of neonatal admissions of the total paediatric ≤ 5 years admissions significantly increased from 11% in 1990 to 20% by 2008 (trend 0.83 (95% confidence interval 0.45 -1.21). Most of the increase in burden was from neonates born in hospital and very young neonates aged < 7days. Hospital deliveries also increased significantly. Clinical diagnoses of neonatal sepsis, prematurity, neonatal jaundice, neonatal encephalopathy, tetanus and neonatal meningitis accounted for over 75% of the inpatient neonatal admissions. Inpatient case fatality for all ≤ 5 years declined significantly over the 19 years. However, neonatal deaths comprised 33% of all inpatient death among children aged ≤ 5 years in 1990, this increased to 55% by 2008. Tetanus 256/390 (67%), prematurity 554/1,280(43%) and neonatal encephalopathy 253/778(33%) had the highest case fatality. A combination of six indicators: irregular respiration, oxygen saturation of <90%, pallor, neck stiffness, weight < 1.5 kg, and abnormally elevated blood glucose > 7 mmol/l predicted inpatient neonatal death with a sensitivity of 81% and a specificity of 68%.
There is clear evidence of increasing burden in neonatal admissions at a rural district hospital in contrast to reducing numbers of non-neonatal paediatrics' admissions aged ≤ 5years. Though the inpatient case fatality for all admissions aged ≤ 5 years declined significantly, neonates now comprise close to 60% of all inpatient deaths. Simple indicators may identify neonates at risk of death.
The first African Child Neurology Association meeting identified key challenges that the continent faces to improve the health of children with neurology disorders. The capacity to diagnose common neurologic conditions and rare disorders is lacking. The burden of neurologic disease on the continent is not known, and this lack of knowledge limits the ability to lobby for better health care provision. Inability to practice in resource-limited settings has led to the migration of skilled professionals away from Africa. Referral systems from primary to tertiary are often unpredictable and chaotic. There is a lack of access to reliable supplies of basic neurology treatments such as antiepileptic drugs. Few countries have nationally accepted guidelines either for the management of epilepsy or status epilepticus. There is a great need to develop better training capacity across Africa in the recognition and management of neurologic conditions in children, from primary health care to the subspecialist level.
Africa; child neurology; resources
The fifth Millennium Development Goal (MDG 5) established the goal of a 75% reduction in the maternal mortality ratio (MMR; number of maternal deaths per 100 000 livebirths) between 1990 and 2015. We aimed to measure levels and track trends in maternal mortality, the key causes contributing to maternal death, and timing of maternal death with respect to delivery.
We used robust statistical methods including the Cause of Death Ensemble model (CODEm) to analyse a database of data for 7065 site-years and estimate the number of maternal deaths from all causes in 188 countries between 1990 and 2013. We estimated the number of pregnancy-related deaths caused by HIV on the basis of a systematic review of the relative risk of dying during pregnancy for HIV-positive women compared with HIV-negative women. We also estimated the fraction of these deaths aggravated by pregnancy on the basis of a systematic review. To estimate the numbers of maternal deaths due to nine different causes, we identified 61 sources from a systematic review and 943 site-years of vital registration data. We also did a systematic review of reports about the timing of maternal death, identifying 142 sources to use in our analysis. We developed estimates for each country for 1990–2013 using Bayesian meta-regression. We estimated 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) for all values.
292 982 (95% UI 261 017–327 792) maternal deaths occurred in 2013, compared with 376 034 (343 483–407 574) in 1990. The global annual rate of change in the MMR was −0·3% (−1·1 to 0·6) from 1990 to 2003, and −2·7% (−3·9 to −1·5) from 2003 to 2013, with evidence of continued acceleration. MMRs reduced consistently in south, east, and southeast Asia between 1990 and 2013, but maternal deaths increased in much of sub-Saharan Africa during the 1990s. 2070 (1290–2866) maternal deaths were related to HIV in 2013, 0·4% (0·2–0·6) of the global total. MMR was highest in the oldest age groups in both 1990 and 2013. In 2013, most deaths occurred intrapartum or postpartum. Causes varied by region and between 1990 and 2013. We recorded substantial variation in the MMR by country in 2013, from 956·8 (685·1–1262·8) in South Sudan to 2·4 (1·6–3·6) in Iceland.
Global rates of change suggest that only 16 countries will achieve the MDG 5 target by 2015. Accelerated reductions since the Millennium Declaration in 2000 coincide with increased development assistance for maternal, newborn, and child health. Setting of targets and associated interventions for after 2015 will need careful consideration of regions that are making slow progress, such as west and central Africa.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The International Fetal and Newborn Growth Consortium for the 21st Century (INTERGROWTH-21st) Project is a population-based, longitudinal study describing early growth and development in an optimally healthy cohort of 4607 mothers and newborns. At 24 months, children are assessed for neurodevelopmental outcomes with the INTERGROWTH-21st Neurodevelopment Package. This paper describes neurodevelopment tools for preschoolers and the systematic approach leading to the development of the Package.
An advisory panel shortlisted project-specific criteria (such as multi-dimensional assessments and suitability for international populations) to be fulfilled by a neurodevelopment instrument. A literature review of well-established tools for preschoolers revealed 47 candidates, none of which fulfilled all the project's criteria. A multi-dimensional assessment was, therefore, compiled using a package-based approach by: (i) categorizing desired outcomes into domains, (ii) devising domain-specific criteria for tool selection, and (iii) selecting the most appropriate measure for each domain.
The Package measures vision (Cardiff tests); cortical auditory processing (auditory evoked potentials to a novelty oddball paradigm); and cognition, language skills, behavior, motor skills and attention (the INTERGROWTH-21st Neurodevelopment Assessment) in 35–45 minutes. Sleep-wake patterns (actigraphy) are also assessed. Tablet-based applications with integrated quality checks and automated, wireless electroencephalography make the Package easy to administer in the field by non-specialist staff. The Package is in use in Brazil, India, Italy, Kenya and the United Kingdom.
The INTERGROWTH-21st Neurodevelopment Package is a multi-dimensional instrument measuring early child development (ECD). Its developmental approach may be useful to those involved in large-scale ECD research and surveillance efforts.
The burden of epilepsy, in terms of both morbidity and mortality, is likely to vary depending on the etiology (primary [genetic/unknown] vs. secondary [structural/metabolic]) and with the use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). We estimated the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and modeled the remission rates of active convulsive epilepsy (ACE) using epidemiologic data collected over the last decade in rural Kilifi, Kenya.
We used measures of prevalence, incidence, and mortality to model the remission of epilepsy using disease-modeling software (DisMod II). DALYs were calculated as the sum of Years Lost to Disability (YLD) and Years of Life Lost (YLL) due to premature death using the prevalence approach, with disability weights (DWs) from the 2010 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study. DALYs were calculated with R statistical software with the associated uncertainty intervals (UIs) computed by bootstrapping.
A total of 1,005 (95% UI 797–1,213) DALYs were lost to ACE, which is 433 (95% UI 393–469) DALYs lost per 100,000 people. Twenty-six percent (113/100,000/year, 95% UI 106–117) of the DALYs were due to YLD and 74% (320/100,000/year, 95% UI 248–416) to YLL. Primary epilepsy accounted for fewer DALYs than secondary epilepsy (98 vs. 334 DALYs per 100,000 people). Those taking AEDs contributed fewer DALYs than those not taking AEDs (167 vs. 266 DALYs per 100,000 people). The proportion of people with ACE in remission per year was estimated at 11.0% in males and 12.0% in females, with highest rates in the 0–5 year age group.
The DALYs for ACE are high in rural Kenya, but less than the estimates of 2010 GBD study. Three-fourths of DALYs resulted from secondary epilepsy. Use of AEDs was associated with 40% reduction of DALYs. Improving adherence to AEDs may reduce the burden of epilepsy in this area.
Burden; Disability-adjusted life years; Epilepsy; Remission; Treatment gap
The epilepsy treatment gap is largest in resource-poor countries. We evaluated the efficacy of a 1-day health education program in a rural area of Kenya. The primary outcome was adherence to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) as measured by drug levels in the blood, and the secondary outcomes were seizure frequency and Kilifi Epilepsy Beliefs and Attitudes Scores (KEBAS).
Seven hundred thirty-eight people with epilepsy (PWE) and their designated supporter were randomized to either the intervention (education) or nonintervention group. Data were collected at baseline and 1 year after the education intervention was administered to the intervention group. There were 581 PWE assessed at both time points. At the end of the study, 105 PWE from the intervention group and 86 from the nonintervention group gave blood samples, which were assayed for the most commonly used AEDs (phenobarbital, phenytoin, and carbamazepine). The proportions of PWE with detectable AED levels were determined using a standard blood assay method. The laboratory technicians conducting the assays were blinded to the randomization. Secondary outcomes were evaluated using questionnaires administered by trained field staff. Modified Poisson regression was used to investigate the factors associated with improved adherence (transition from nonoptimal AED level in blood at baseline to optimal levels at follow-up), reduced seizures, and improved KEBAS, which was done as a post hoc analysis. This trial is registered in ISRCTN register under ISRCTN35680481.
There was no significant difference in adherence to AEDs based on detectable drug levels (odds ratio [OR] 1.46, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.74–2.90, p = 0.28) or by self-reports (OR 1.00, 95% CI 0.71–1.40, p = 1.00) between the intervention and nonintervention group. The intervention group had significantly fewer beliefs about traditional causes of epilepsy, cultural treatment, and negative stereotypes than the nonintervention group. There was no difference in seizure frequency. A comparison of the baseline and follow-up data showed a significant increase in adherence—intervention group (36–81% [p < 0.001]) and nonintervention group (38–74% [p < 0.001])—using detectable blood levels. The number of patients with less frequent seizures (≤3 seizures in the last 3 months) increased in the intervention group (62–80% [p = 0.002]) and in the nonintervention group (67–75% [p = 0.04]). Improved therapeutic adherence (observed in both groups combined) was positively associated with positive change in beliefs about risks of epilepsy (relative risk [RR] 2.00, 95% CI 1.03–3.95) and having nontraditional religious beliefs (RR 2.01, 95% CI 1.01–3.99). Reduced seizure frequency was associated with improved adherence (RR 1.72, 95% CI 1.19–2.47). Positive changes in KEBAS were associated with having tertiary education as compared to none (RR 1.09, 95% CI 1.05–1.14).
Health education improves knowledge about epilepsy, but once only contact does not improve adherence. However, sustained education may improve adherence in future studies.
Epilepsy; Education intervention; Adherence; Beliefs about epilepsy; Seizure frequency
Many people with epilepsy in low-income countries do not receive appropriate biomedical treatment. This epilepsy treatment gap might be caused by patients not seeking biomedical treatment or not adhering to prescribed antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). We measured the prevalence of and investigated risk factors for the epilepsy treatment gap in rural Kenya.
All people with active convulsive epilepsy identified during a cross-sectional survey of 232 176 people in Kilifi were approached. The epilepsy treatment gap was defined as the percentage of people with active epilepsy who had not accessed biomedical services or who were not on treatment or were on inadequate treatment. Information about risk factors was obtained through a questionnaire-based interview of sociodemographic characteristics, socioeconomic status, access to health facilities, seizures, stigma, and beliefs and attitudes about epilepsy. The factors associated with people not seeking biomedical treatment and not adhering to AEDs were investigated separately, adjusted for age.
673 people with epilepsy were interviewed, of whom 499 (74%) reported seeking treatment from a health facility. Blood samples were taken from 502 (75%) people, of whom 132 (26%) reported taking AEDs, but 189 (38%) had AEDs detectable in the blood. The sensitivity and specificity of self-reported adherence compared with AEDs detected in blood were 38·1% (95% CI 31·1–45·4) and 80·8% (76·0–85·0). The epilepsy treatment gap was 62·4% (58·1–66·6). In multivariable analysis, failure to seek biomedical treatment was associated with a patient holding traditional animistic religious beliefs (adjusted odds ratio 1·85, 95% CI 1·11–2·71), reporting negative attitudes about biomedical treatment (0·86, 0·78–0·95), living more than 30 km from health facilities (3·89, 1·77–8·51), paying for AEDs (2·99, 1·82–4·92), having learning difficulties (2·30, 1·29–4·11), having had epilepsy for longer than 10 years (4·60, 2·07–10·23), and having focal seizures (2·28, 1·50–3·47). Reduced adherence was associated with negative attitudes about epilepsy (1·10, 1·03–1·18) and taking of AEDs for longer than 5 years (3·78, 1·79–7·98).
The sensitivity and specificity of self-reported adherence is poor, but on the basis of AED detection in blood almost two-thirds of patients with epilepsy were not on treatment. Education about epilepsy and making AEDs freely available in health facilities near people with epilepsy should be investigated as potential ways to reduce the epilepsy treatment gap.
The Millennium Declaration in 2000 brought special global attention to HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria through the formulation of Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6. The Global Burden of Disease 2013 study provides a consistent and comprehensive approach to disease estimation for between 1990 and 2013, and an opportunity to assess whether accelerated progress has occurred since the Millennium Declaration.
To estimate incidence and mortality for HIV, we used the UNAIDS Spectrum model appropriately modified based on a systematic review of available studies of mortality with and without antiretroviral therapy (ART). For concentrated epidemics, we calibrated Spectrum models to fit vital registration data corrected for misclassification of HIV deaths. In generalised epidemics, we minimised a loss function to select epidemic curves most consistent with prevalence data and demographic data for all-cause mortality. We analysed counterfactual scenarios for HIV to assess years of life saved through prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and ART. For tuberculosis, we analysed vital registration and verbal autopsy data to estimate mortality using cause of death ensemble modelling. We analysed data for corrected case-notifications, expert opinions on the case-detection rate, prevalence surveys, and estimated cause-specific mortality using Bayesian meta-regression to generate consistent trends in all parameters. We analysed malaria mortality and incidence using an updated cause of death database, a systematic analysis of verbal autopsy validation studies for malaria, and recent studies (2010–13) of incidence, drug resistance, and coverage of insecticide-treated bednets.
Globally in 2013, there were 1·8 million new HIV infections (95% uncertainty interval 1·7 million to 2·1 million), 29·2 million prevalent HIV cases (28·1 to 31·7), and 1·3 million HIV deaths (1·3 to 1·5). At the peak of the epidemic in 2005, HIV caused 1·7 million deaths (1·6 million to 1·9 million). Concentrated epidemics in Latin America and eastern Europe are substantially smaller than previously estimated. Through interventions including PMTCT and ART, 19·1 million life-years (16·6 million to 21·5 million) have been saved, 70·3% (65·4 to 76·1) in developing countries. From 2000 to 2011, the ratio of development assistance for health for HIV to years of life saved through intervention was US$4498 in developing countries. Including in HIV-positive individuals, all-form tuberculosis incidence was 7·5 million (7·4 million to 7·7 million), prevalence was 11·9 million (11·6 million to 12·2 million), and number of deaths was 1·4 million (1·3 million to 1·5 million) in 2013. In the same year and in only individuals who were HIV-negative, all-form tuberculosis incidence was 7·1 million (6·9 million to 7·3 million), prevalence was 11·2 million (10·8 million to 11·6 million), and number of deaths was 1·3 million (1·2 million to 1·4 million). Annualised rates of change (ARC) for incidence, prevalence, and death became negative after 2000. Tuberculosis in HIV-negative individuals disproportionately occurs in men and boys (versus women and girls); 64·0% of cases (63·6 to 64·3) and 64·7% of deaths (60·8 to 70·3). Globally, malaria cases and deaths grew rapidly from 1990 reaching a peak of 232 million cases (143 million to 387 million) in 2003 and 1·2 million deaths (1·1 million to 1·4 million) in 2004. Since 2004, child deaths from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa have decreased by 31·5% (15·7 to 44·1). Outside of Africa, malaria mortality has been steadily decreasing since 1990.
Our estimates of the number of people living with HIV are 18·7% smaller than UNAIDS’s estimates in 2012. The number of people living with malaria is larger than estimated by WHO. The number of people living with HIV, tuberculosis, or malaria have all decreased since 2000. At the global level, upward trends for malaria and HIV deaths have been reversed and declines in tuberculosis deaths have accelerated. 101 countries (74 of which are developing) still have increasing HIV incidence. Substantial progress since the Millennium Declaration is an encouraging sign of the effect of global action.
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Stroke is the second leading cause of death globally. Computerized tomography is used to distinguish between ischemic and hemorrhagic subtypes, but it is expensive and unavailable in low and middle income countries. Clinical stroke scores are proposed to differentiate between stroke subtypes but their reliability is unknown.
Materials and Methods:
We searched online databases for studies written in English and identified articles using predefined criteria. We considered studies in which the Siriraj, Guy's Hospital, Besson and Greek stroke scores were compared to computerized tomography as the reference standard. We calculated the pooled sensitivity and specificity of the clinical stroke scores using a bivariate mixed effects binomial regression model.
In meta-analysis, sensitivity and specificity for the Siriraj stroke score, were 0.69 (95% CI 0.62-0.75) and 0.83 (95% CI 0.75-0.88) for ischemic stroke and 0.65 (95% CI 0.56-0.73) and 0.88 (95% CI 0.83-0.91) for hemorrhagic stroke. For the Guy's hospital stroke score overall sensitivity and specificity were 0.70 (95% CI 0.53-0.83) and 0.79 (95% CI 0.68-0.87) for ischemic stroke and 0.54 (95% CI 0.42-0.66) and 0.89 (95% CI 0.83-0.94) for hemorrhagic stroke.
Clinical stroke scores are not accurate enough for use in clinical or epidemiological settings. Computerized tomography is recommended for differentiating stroke subtypes. Larger studies using different patient populations are required for validation of clinical stroke scores.
Besson score; Guy's hospital stroke score; Greek stroke score; Siriraj stroke score; stroke
Epilepsy is common in developing countries, and it is often associated with parasitic infections. We investigated the relationship between exposure to parasitic infections, particularly multiple infections and active convulsive epilepsy (ACE), in five sites across sub-Saharan Africa.
Methods and Findings
A case-control design that matched on age and location was used. Blood samples were collected from 986 prevalent cases and 1,313 age-matched community controls and tested for presence of antibodies to Onchocerca volvulus, Toxocara canis, Toxoplasma gondii, Plasmodium falciparum, Taenia solium and HIV. Exposure (seropositivity) to Onchocerca volvulus (OR = 1.98; 95%CI: 1.52–2.58, p<0.001), Toxocara canis (OR = 1.52; 95%CI: 1.23–1.87, p<0.001), Toxoplasma gondii (OR = 1.28; 95%CI: 1.04–1.56, p = 0.018) and higher antibody levels (top tertile) to Toxocara canis (OR = 1.70; 95%CI: 1.30–2.24, p<0.001) were associated with an increased prevalence of ACE. Exposure to multiple infections was common (73.8% of cases and 65.5% of controls had been exposed to two or more infections), and for T. gondii and O. volvulus co-infection, their combined effect on the prevalence of ACE, as determined by the relative excess risk due to interaction (RERI), was more than additive (T. gondii and O. volvulus, RERI = 1.19). The prevalence of T. solium antibodies was low (2.8% of cases and 2.2% of controls) and was not associated with ACE in the study areas.
This study investigates how the degree of exposure to parasites and multiple parasitic infections are associated with ACE and may explain conflicting results obtained when only seropositivity is considered. The findings from this study should be further validated.
The prevalence of epilepsy is greater in developing countries compared to developed countries, and parasitic infestations are thought to contribute to this increased burden. We conducted a case-control study across five sites in sub-Saharan Africa to investigate the relationship between epilepsy and exposure to parasitic infections, and the association between epilepsy and multiple co-incidental infections. Exposure to Onchocerca volvulus, Toxocara canis and Toxoplasma gondii as well as high antibody levels (top tertile) to Toxocara canis was positively associated with the prevalence of active convulsive epilepsy (ACE). Multiple co-incidental parasitic infections were common, and the combined effect of T. gondii and O. volvulus co-infection on ACE was greater than the sum of the individual effects. The contribution of each of these parasitic infections on the burden of epilepsy in sub-Saharan Africa should be explored.
Nearly one in three South Africans will suffer from a mental disorder in his or her lifetime, a higher prevalence than many low- and middle-income countries. Understanding the economic costs and consequences of prevention and packages of care is essential, particularly as South Africa considers scaling-up mental health services and works towards universal health coverage. Economic evaluations can inform how priorities are set in system or spending changes.
To identify and review research from South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa on the direct and indirect costs of mental, neurological, and substance use (MNS) disorders and the cost-effectiveness of treatment interventions.
Narrative overview methodology.
Results and conclusions
Reviewed studies indicate that integrating mental health care into existing health systems may be the most effective and cost-efficient approach to increase access to mental health services in South Africa. Integration would also direct treatment, prevention, and screening to people with HIV and other chronic health conditions who are at high risk for mental disorders. We identify four major knowledge gaps: 1) accurate and thorough assessment of the health burdens of MNS disorders, 2) design and assessment of interventions that integrate mental health screening and treatment into existing health systems, 3) information on the use and costs of traditional medicines, and 4) cost-effectiveness evaluation of a range of specific interventions or packages of interventions that are tailored to the national context.
mental health; South Africa; economics; health planning; policy; costs and cost analysis
•Epilepsy is prevalent in rural South Africa, but less than other parts of Africa.•Most epilepsy starts in childhood.•Poor obstetric history and snoring were associated with active convulsive epilepsy.•HIV and parasitic infection were not associated with active convulsive epilepsy.
Epilepsy is among the most common neurological disorders worldwide. However, there are few large, population-based studies of the prevalence and risk factors for epilepsy in southern Africa.
From August 2008 to February 2009, as part of a multi-site study, we undertook a three-stage, population-based study, embedded within the Agincourt health and socio-demographic surveillance system, to estimate the prevalence and identify risk factors of active convulsive epilepsy (ACE) in a rural South African population.
The crude prevalence of ACE, after adjusting for non-response and the sensitivity of the screening method, was 7.0/1,000 individuals (95%CI 6.4–7.6) with significant geographic heterogeneity across the study area. Being male (OR = 2.3; 95%CI 1.6–3.2), family history of seizures (OR = 4.0; 95%CI 2.0–8.1), a sibling with seizures (OR = 7.0; 95%CI 1.6–31.7), problems after delivery (OR = 5.9; 95%CI 1.2–24.6), and history of snoring (OR = 6.5; 95%CI 4.5–9.5) were significantly associated with ACE. For children, their mother's exposure to some formal schooling was protective (OR = 0.30; 95%CI 0.11–0.84) after controlling for age and sex. Human immunodeficiency virus was not found to be associated with ACE.
ACE is less frequent in this part of rural South Africa than other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Improving obstetric services could prevent epilepsy. The relationship between snoring and ACE requires further investigation, as does the relative contribution of genetic and environmental factors to examine the increased risk in those with a family history of epilepsy.
Epilepsy; Prevalence; Case-control; Risk factors; Population-based
Objectives. The incidence of convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) is high in Africa but the long-term outcome is unknown. We examined the neurocognitive outcome and survival of children treated for CSE in a Kenyan hospital 3 to 4 years after discharge. Methods. The frequency and nature of neurological deficits among this group of children were determined and compared to a control group. The children were screened with the Ten Questions
Questionnaire for neurodevelopmental impairment if alive and those that screened positive were invited for further assessment to determine the pattern and extent of their impairment. A verbal autopsy was performed to determine the cause of death in those that died. Results. In the 119 cases followed-up, 9 (8%) died after discharge, with the majority having seizures during their fatal illness. The 110 survivors (median age 5 years) had significantly more neurological impairments on the screening compared to 282 controls (34/110 (30.9%) versus 11/282 (3.9%), OR = 11.0, 95% CI 5.3–22.8). Fifteen percent of the cases had active epilepsy. Conclusions. This study demonstrates the considerable burden of CSE in African children. Strategies to manage children with CSE that are acceptable to the community need to be explored to improve the longer-term outcome.
We conducted a double-blind trial to determine whether a single intramuscular injection of fosphenytoin prevents seizures and neurologic sequelae in children with acute coma.
We conducted this study at Kilifi District Hospital in coastal Kenya and Kondele Children's Hospital in western Kenya. We recruited children (age, 9 months to 13 years) with acute nontraumatic coma. We administered fosphenytoin (20 phenytoin equivalents/kg) or placebo and examined the prevalence and frequency of clinical seizures and occurrence of neurocognitive sequelae.
We recruited 173 children (median age, 2.6 [interquartile range, 1.7-3.7] years) into the study; 110 had cerebral malaria, 8 had bacterial meningitis, and 55 had encephalopathies of unknown etiology. Eighty-five children received fosphenytoin and 88 received placebo. Thirty-three (38%) children who received fosphenytoin had at least 1 seizure compared with 32 (36%) who received placebo (P = .733). Eighteen (21%) and 15 (17%) children died in the fosphenytoin and placebo arms, respectively (P = .489). At 3 months after discharge, 6 (10%) children in the fosphenytoin arm had neurologic sequelae compared with 6 (10%) in the placebo arm (P = .952).
A single intramuscular injection of fosphenytoin (20 phenytoin equivalents/kg) does not prevent seizures or neurologic deficits in childhood acute nontraumatic coma.
Coma; Child; Seizure; Prophylaxis; Anticonvulsants
Severe childhood illnesses present a major public health challenge for Africa, which is aggravated by a suboptimal response to the child's health problems with reference to the health-seeking behaviour of the parents or guardians. We examined the health-seeking behaviour of parents at the Kenyan coast because understanding impediments to optimal health-seeking behaviour could greatly contribute to reducing the impact of severe illness on children's growth and development.
Methods and Results
Health-seeking behaviour, and the factors influencing this behaviour, were examined in two traditional communities. We held in-depth interviews with 53 mothers, fathers and caregivers from two rural clinics at the Kenyan Coast. Biomedical medicine (from health facilities and purchased over the counter) was found to be the most popular first point of treatment. However, traditional healing still plays a salient role in the health care within these two communities. Traditional healers were consulted for various reasons: a) attribution of causation of ill-health to supernatural sources, b) chronic illness (inability of modern medicine to cure the problem) and c) as prevention against possible ill-health. In developing an explanatory model of decision-making, we observed that this was a complex process involving consultation at various levels, with elders, but also between both parents, depending on the perceived nature and chronicity of the illness. However, it was reported that fathers were the ultimate decision makers in relation to decisions concerning where the child would be taken for treatment.
Health systems need to see traditional healing as a complementary system in order to ensure adequate access to health care. Importantly, fathers also need to be addressed in intervention and education programs.
Epilepsy is associated with high rates of premature mortality, but the contribution of psychiatric comorbidity is uncertain. We assessed the prevalence and risks of premature mortality from external causes such as suicide, accidents, and assaults in people with epilepsy with and without psychiatric comorbidity.
We studied all individuals born in Sweden between 1954 and 2009 with inpatient and outpatient diagnoses of epilepsy (n=69 995) for risks and causes of premature mortality. Patients were compared with age-matched and sex-matched general population controls (n=660 869) and unaffected siblings (n=81 396). Sensitivity analyses were done to investigate whether these odds differed by sex, age, seizure types, comorbid psychiatric diagnosis, and different time periods after epilepsy diagnosis.
6155 (8.8%) people with epilepsy died during follow-up, at a median age of 34·5 (IQR 21·0–44·0) years with substantially elevated odds of premature mortality (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] of 11·1 [95% CI 10·6–11·6] compared with general population controls, and 11·4 [10·4–12·5] compared with unaffected siblings). Of those deaths, 15·8% (n=972) were from external causes, with high odds for non-vehicle accidents (aOR 5·5, 95 % CI 4·7–6·5) and suicide (3·7, 3·3–4·2). Of those who died from external causes, 75·2% had comorbid psychiatric disorders, with strong associations in individuals with co-occurring depression (13·0, 10·3–16·6) and substance misuse (22·4, 18·3–27·3), compared with patients with no epilepsy and no psychiatric comorbidity.
Reducing premature mortality from external causes of death should be a priority in epilepsy management. Psychiatric comorbidity plays an important part in the premature mortality seen in epilepsy. The ability of health services and public health measures to prevent such deaths requires review.
Wellcome Trust, the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, and the Swedish Research Council.
Convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) is the most common neurological emergency in childhood and is often associated with fever. In sub-Saharan Africa, the high incidence of febrile illnesses might influence the incidence and outcome of CSE. We aimed to provide data on the incidence, causes, and outcomes of childhood CSE in this region.
Between March, 2006, and June, 2006, we studied all children who had been admitted with CSE to a Kenyan rural district hospital in 2002 and 2003. Confirmed CSE had been observed directly; probable CSE was inferred from convulsions on arrival, requirement for phenobarbital or phenytoin, or coma with a recent history of seizures. We estimated the incidence with linked demographic surveillance, and risk factors for death and neurological sequelae were analysed by multivariable analysis.
Of 388 episodes of CSE, 155 (40%) were confirmed CSE and 274 (71%) were caused by an infection. The incidence of confirmed CSE was 35 (95% CI 27–46) per 100 000 children per year overall, and was 52 (21–107) and 85 (62–114) per 100 000 per year in children aged 1–11 months and 12–59 months, respectively. The incidence of all CSE was 268 (188–371) and 227 (189–272) per 100 000 per year in these age-groups. 59 (15%) children died in hospital, 81 (21%) died during long-term follow-up, and 46 (12%) developed neurological sequelae. Mortality of children with confirmed CSE while in hospital was associated with bacterial meningitis (adjusted relative risk [RR]=2·6; 95% CI 1·4–4·9) and focal onset seizures (adjusted RR=2·4; 1·1–5·4), whereas neurological sequelae were associated with hypoglycaemia (adjusted RR=3·5; 1·8–7·1) and age less than 12 months (adjusted RR=2·5; 1·2–5·1).
Prevention of infections and appropriate early management of seizures might reduce the incidence and improve the outcome of CSE in children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Identifying severe, life-threatening falciparum malaria in African children allows for the prompt institution of appropriate management. In the past 2 decades, hyperlactatemia and acidosis have been identified as being associated with mortality in patients with severe malaria, but measurement of blood lactate concentration and base excess is expensive and technically demanding. In this large, prospective study, we examined the prognostic value of acidosis and hyperlactatemia and compared these markers to clinically assessed variables.
We examined several clinical and laboratory measurements as prognostic markers of mortality in 14,605 parasitemic children admitted to 3 hospitals in Africa. Whole-blood lactate concentration and acid/base status were used to identify subjects who had hyperlactatemia and acidosis.
Using cut-points established by sensitivity and specificity curves, the sensitivities and positive predictive values for both lactate concentration and base excess were low, the specificities were moderate, and the negative predictive values were high (>97%). No reliable clinical surrogates for hyperlactatemia or acidosis were identified. Addition of lactate concentration and base excess to predictive models with previously identified clinical features (Blantyre Coma Score, deep breathing, prostration, and weight-for-age Z score) and 1 laboratory measure (blood glucose level) did not appreciably improve models to predict mortality.
Measurements of lactate concentration and acid/base balance are expensive to perform, and performance of the latter can be problematic. Severe falciparum malaria may be readily recognized in children at admission to hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa with use of simple, inexpensive means and does not require knowledge of lactate concentration and base excess.
Background. The diagnosis of cerebral malaria is problematic in malaria-endemic areas because encephalopathy in patients with parasitemia may have another cause. Abnormal retinal findings are thought to increase the specificity of the diagnosis, and the level of histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) may reflect the parasite biomass.
Methods. We examined the retina and measured plasma HRP2 levels in children with acute nontraumatic encephalopathy in Kenya. Logistic regression, with HRP2 level as an independent variable and World Health Organization–defined cerebral malaria and/or retinopathy as the outcome, was used to calculate malaria-attributable fractions (MAFs) and retinopathy-attributable fractions (RAFs).
Results. Of 270 children, 140 (52%) had peripheral parasitemia, 80 (30%) had malaria retinopathy, and 164 (61%) had an HRP2 level of >0 U/mL. During 2006–2011, the incidence of HRP2 positivity among admitted children declined by 49 cases per 100 000 per year (a 78% reduction). An HRP2 level of >0 U/mL had a MAF of 93% for cerebral malaria, with a MAF of 97% observed for HRP2 levels of ≥10 U/mL (the level of the best combined sensitivity and specificity). HRP2 levels of >0 U/mL had a RAF of 77% for features of retinopathy combined, with the highest RAFs for macular whitening (99%), peripheral whitening (98%), and hemorrhages (90%).
Conclusion. HRP2 has a high attributable fraction for features of malarial retinopathy, supporting its use in the diagnosis of cerebral malaria. HRP2 thresholds improve the specificity of the definition.
attributable fractions; cerebral malaria; children; histidine-rich protein-2; malaria retinopathy
The aim of the study was to investigate early executive functioning in young children from 6–35 months of age. The study involved 319 randomly selected children from the community, 17 HIV exposed but uninfected children and 31 HIV infected ARV-naive children. A variation of the A-not-B task was used. While there were no group differences in total correct, perseverative errors, nor maximum error run, a significant percentage of children were unable to complete the task as a consequence of the children becoming overtly distressed or refusing to continue. In a multivariate analysis we observed that the significant predictors of non-completion were HIV exposure (both infected and exposed) and being under 24 months of age. These patterns of results indicate that future work with a broader array of tasks need to look at the association of HIV and EF tasks and potential contribution of factors such as emotion regulation, persistence and motivation on performance on EF tasks.
HIV; executive functions; A-not-B task; Kenya; children
Clinical signs and symptoms of cerebral malaria in children are nonspecific and are seen in other common encephalopathies in malaria-endemic areas. This makes accurate diagnosis difficult in resource-poor settings. Novel malaria-specific diagnostic and prognostic methods are needed. We have used 2 proteomic strategies to identify differentially expressed proteins in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid from children with a diagnosis of cerebral malaria, compared with those with a diagnosis of malaria-slide-negative acute bacterial meningitis and other nonspecific encephalopathies. Here we report the presence of differentially expressed proteins in cerebral malaria in both plasma and cerebrospinal fluid that could be used to better understand pathogenesis and help develop more-specific diagnostic methods. In particular, we report the expression of 2 spectrin proteins that have known Plasmodium falciparum–binding partners involved in the stability of the infected red blood cell, suppressing further invasion and possibly enhancing the red blood cell's ability to sequester in microvasculature.
proteomics; P. falciparum; cerebral malaria; spectrin; platelet activation
Intervention Studies; Pediatric Epilepsy; Healthcare Providers; African Traditional Medicine
To define the prevalence and associations of co-morbidity and school attendance in older children with epilepsy (CWE) from a rural district of Tanzania by conducting a community-based case-control study.
Children aged 6 -14 years old with active epilepsy (at least two unprovoked seizures in the last five years) were identified in a cross-sectional survey in Tanzania. Co-morbidities were assessed and cases were compared with age-matched controls.
Co-morbidity was very common amongst cases (95/112, 85%), with 62/112 (55%) having multiple co-morbidities. Co-morbidities consisted of cognitive impairment (72/112, 64%), behaviour disorder 68/112 (61%), motor difficulties 29/112 (26%), burns and other previous injuries (29/112, 26%). These complications were significantly more common in cases than in controls (Odds Ratio 14.8, 95%CI 7.6–28.6, p<0.001). Co-morbidity in CWE was associated with structural cause, abnormal electroencephalogram and early onset seizures. Cognitive impairment was very common in CWE (64%) and was not associated with Phenobarbital use but was associated with motor difficulties, early onset and recurrent seizures. Poor school attendance was found in 56/112 (50%) of CWE, but not in the controls: it was associated with the presence of multiple co-morbidities, especially with motor difficulties in CWE.
Children with epilepsy in a rural area of sub-Saharan Africa had a high level of co-morbidity. Cognitive impairment and poor school attendance were very common. These associated difficulties in CWE in the region need to be addressed to reduce the negative impact of epilepsy on these children.
epilepsy; Africa; children; co-morbidity; cognitive impairment; education
Raised intracranial pressure is a feature of cerebral malaria in children living in Africa. We investigated specific clinical optic disc features of papilledema to establish their prognostic significance in this encephalopathy. We developed a classification of acute papilledema and tested it against disease outcome. Kenyan children admitted with severe falciparum malaria (cerebral or impaired consciousness) underwent dilated fundal examination using direct and indirect ophthalmoscopy. Clinical features of the optic disc were systematically recorded and compared to the child’s outcome. Poor outcome defined as death or neurological impairment on discharge was used to construct and test a clinical classification of papilledema. Forty-five children were examined (26 cerebral malaria, 17 severe malaria with an impaired conscious level or prostration) of whom seven had a poor outcome (three died, four had residual neurological impairment). Loss of the optic disc cup and marked optic disc elevation were significantly correlated with a poor outcome (P < 0.05). Increasing severity in the proposed classification of acute papilledema was positively correlated with a poor outcome (P < 0.05, chi-square test for trend). Loss of the optic disc cup and marked elevation of the optic disc head appear to be correlated with poor outcome in children with severe malaria whereas the presence of dilated veins suggests a good outcome. The proposed classification of acute papilledema is useful as a prognostic indicator and may be applicable to other encephalopathies with raised intracranial pressure.
Optic disc; papilledema; malaria; coma