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Childhood Meningitis Tied to Reduced Education, Employment Prospects

TUESDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Some young adults who had bacterial meningitis during childhood have less education and are less financially self-sufficient than those in the general population, a new study from Denmark found.

Survivors of childhood bacterial meningitis are at risk for hearing loss, seizure disorders, and physical and mental impairments. Learning disabilities are a common problem among survivors.

Several types of germs can cause bacterial meningitis. This study looked at nearly 3,000 Danish adults who had meningococcal, pneumococcal or H. influenzae meningitis as children between 1977 and 2007. They were compared to control groups of adults the same age who had never had meningitis.

Among those who had meningococcal meningitis during childhood, 11 percent fewer had completed high school and about 8 percent fewer had received higher education by age 35, compared to those without meningitis.

Among those who had pneumococcal meningitis during childhood, about 10 percent fewer had completed high school and about 9 percent fewer had higher education, compared to those who never had the condition.

Among those who had H. influenzae meningitis during childhood, 5.5 percent fewer had completed high school and 6.5 percent fewer had higher education, compared to people who had never had meningitis, found the study, which was published in the April 24 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Compared to adults in the control group, nearly 4 percent fewer meningococcal patients, nearly 11 percent fewer pneumococcal patients and more than 4 percent fewer H. influenzae meningitis patients went on to become economically self-sufficient as adults, according to a journal news release.

As for receiving disability pensions, 1.5 percent more of those who had meningococcal meningitis, nearly 9 percent more of those with pneumococcal meningitis and nearly 4 percent of those with H. influenzae meningitis were likely to do so than adults who had never had the condition.

The findings suggest that follow-up into adulthood and possible psychological support may be important for children who have bacterial meningitis, said Dr. Casper Roed, at Copenhagen University Hospital, and colleagues.

Although the study tied childhood meningitis to reduced job and educational prospects, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about bacterial meningitis.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, news release, April 23, 2013

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