Neurodevelopmental sequelae in pneumococcal meningitis cases in Bangladesh: a comprehensive follow-up study.
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Dhaka Shishu (Children's) Hospital
Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences
Methods: Case patients with pneumococcal meningitis who were hospitalized between January 2006 and March 2007 were subjected to short-term follow-up within 30-40 days of discharge. Case patients discharged prior to January 2005 were selected for long-term follow-up at 6-24 months after the date of discharge. Both cohorts were enrolled from Dhaka Shishu Hospital, a pediatric hospital in Bangladesh. Healthy children matched for age, sex, socioeconomic status, and area of residence were recruited from the community as control subjects. During follow-up visits, case patients and control subjects were assessed for their physical and neurodevelopmental status by use of a standardized protocol. The impact of pneumococcal meningitis on siblings and the family as a whole was assessed by means of qualitative interviews.
Results: Neurodevelopmental assessments of the short-term follow-up cohort (n=51) revealed hearing, vision, mental, and psychomotor deficits in 33%, 8%, 41%, and 49% of the case patients, respectively. These deficits were 18%, 4%, 41%, and 35% in the long-term follow-up cohort (n=51), respectively. Such deficits were seen in only 2% of the control subjects, none of whom had vision or hearing deficits.
Conclusions: In addition to the risk of death, pneumococcal meningitis in children causes severe disabilities among survivors, as well as disruption of the life of other siblings and family members. This study demonstrated that high rates of sequelae are associated with pneumococcal meningitis. Neurodevelopmental assessment during follow-up of patients with meningitis is critical to our understanding of the burden of the adverse consequences of pneumococcal disease. These data, along with the fact of poor access to health care, provide a compelling argument in favor of the introduction of pneumococcal vaccine, specifically in a setting where access to health care is poor and disabled children remain incapacitated because of a lack of resources and facilities.