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Eur J Pediatr. 2002 Jun;161(6):330-6. Epub 2002 Apr 25.

Long-term follow-up of children with bacterial meningitis with emphasis on behavioural characteristics.

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Department of Paediatrics, The Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, SE-41685 Göteborg, Sweden.


The sequelae and behaviour in children several years after an episode of bacterial meningitis were studied. All children in Sweden aged 0-4 years with bacterial meningitis between 1987 and 1989 caused by Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis were identified. After exclusion of 16 children who died, 12 with severe concomitant diseases, ten with severe neurological damage obvious already at discharge from hospital and 34 with unknown address, questionnaires were sent to the parents of the remaining 463 children The nearest-age siblings were used as a comparison group. The questionnaires included questions concerning general health, schooling, motor function, speech, hearing and behaviour (inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness). The children were 6-14 years old when the questionnaires were completed. Questionnaires were completed for 304 pairs of patients and siblings and for 154 patients without siblings. The majority of post-meningitic children were healthy and attended normal school but they had more hearing impairment, headaches and problems with balance than their siblings. When the distributions of answers regarding behaviour were compared, the post-meningitic children had significantly more symptoms in the fields of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness than their siblings.


Except for hearing impairment, severe sequelae after bacterial meningitis which are not discovered at discharge do not appear later. Children who appear well after bacterial meningitis have more non-specific symptoms like headache, and more signs and symptoms indicating inattention, hyperactivity and impulsiveness than their siblings.

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