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Meningitis in Infancy Erodes Academic Success

One in four teenagers who had meningitis during infancy will not pass any GCSE exams, reveals// research published ahead of print in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The findings are based on the GCSE exam results of 750 sixteen year olds across England and Wales, 461 of whom had had bacterial meningitis during their first year of life.

The children were all taking part in a long term national study of infantile meningitis in England and Wales.

The General Certificate of Secondary Education exam is taken by 16 year olds in England and Wales. Results are graded A to E, and the national yardstick is to pass five subjects at grade C or above.

Almost 8% (36) of those who had bacterial meningitis before their first birthday were in special schools, which is around four times the national average. All those in the comparison group attended mainstream schools.

One in four who had had the infection did not manage any GCSE passes at grade C or above compared with just over 6% of the comparison group.

Almost half of the teens at state schools who had had meningitis in early childhood failed to achieve the national educational standard of five grade C GSCE passes.

This rate was twice as high as that of children at the same type of school but who had not had meningitis.

More than a fifth failed to pass even one GCSE at grade C compared with 8% of their comparison group and the national average in England of less than 4%.

Even pupils who showed no signs of meningitis associated disability, when assessed at the age of 5, were half as likely to achieve the national standard as children in the comparison group at the same type of school.

All children who have had meningitis in infancy should be closely monitored and provided with continuing educational support throughout their school days, recommend the authors.


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