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

itis continue to have substantial long-term morbidity," says Romina Libster, M.D., a physician in the Department of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University and first author on the paper.

The overall impact of invasive GBS infection in infants is just over 2,000 cases per year in the United States. Among those with bloodstream infection, 10 to 20 percent can also develop meningitis.

The relative importance of GBS as a cause of meningitis has grown in recent years. "GBS is responsible for over 85 percent of bacterial meningitis in children under two months of age," says Edwards. "Vaccination with the newer pneumococcal vaccines has led to tremendous reductions in meningitis from those bacteria."

Using three different and distinctly defined levels to measure functionality, researchers find that 56 percent of children who survived GBS meningitis went on to have age-appropriate (or normal) development, 25 percent had mild-to-moderate impairment and 19 percent had severe impairment.

Signs of mild-to-moderate impairment include continual and significant academic underachievement as well as evidence of mild neurological or functional impairment. Indications of severe impairment include blindness, hearing loss, cerebral palsy, and significantly delayed development.

According to lab data and cranial images at the time of discharge, there are a number of factors that can help predict the likelihood of long-term severe impairment in GBS meningitis survivors, including a failed hearing screening, an abnormal neurologic exam, and abnormal imaging of the head. However, data and imaging cannot as accurately predict children who will have mild impairments, according to the study.

"The more subtle developmental delays suggest that any child who has had GBS meningitis should have ongoing developmental evaluation," says Edwards, "so that problems can be identified early and addressed even before the child actually starts school so tha
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Contact: Rebeka Cohan
rebeka@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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