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Group B streptococcal meningitis has long-term effects on children's developmental outcomes
Date:6/12/2012

ANN ARBOR, Mich. Parents of infants who survive bacterial meningitis caused by group B Streptococcus might have to live with the effects of the disease on their children long after they're discharged from the hospital.

A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds that even though mortality rates of children infected with GBS meningitis have decreased in the past 25 years, just under half of children who survive the disease will suffer impairment as a result of the disease.

"These bacteria can quickly cause significant damage to the developing infant brain very quickly despite the infant's having received excellent medical care," says Morven S. Edwards, M.D., professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and a co-author on the paper. "This is a potentially devastating illness and we still have a large percentage of infants who have poor outcomes after the infection."

According to the CDC, 25 percent of pregnant women carry GBS. It is routine for these women to receive antibiotics during labor to protect the baby from infection occurring in the first days of life. There is no way to prevent late-onset GBS infections in infants.

"We haven't had recent data on the outcomes of GBS meningitis in over 25 years and the quality of medical care has changed," says Prachi Shah, M.D., a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan Medical School Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, and a senior author on the paper. "We wanted to know, in this era of using antibiotics during birth, whether outcomes have changed for infants who do acquire GBS meningitis. Our study counsels families to be very vigilant about their child if they've had GBS."

The current study shows that, although modern day medicine has improved survival rates, children can still suffer adverse long-term outcomes.

"Despite the fact that mortality has decreased in the last 25 years, survivors of GBS mening
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Contact: Rebeka Cohan
rebeka@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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