Children who have had meningitis are five times more likely to have a significant hearing impairment than other children, while 2.4% of survivors had bilateral hearing loss that required a cochlear implant. In general, a third of children who survive meningitis will be left with devastating long-term conditions.
One-in-three youngsters treated for the disease will suffer mental health problems, epilepsy or learning difficulties, the study found. One-in-five children will have anxiety or behavioural disorders, while young survivors are five times more likely to have speech and communication problems. The disease also affected long and short-term memory, with some children left with a borderline low IQ, the researchers suggest.
Temporary or permanent hearing loss
According to the American Gallaudet Research Institute, more than 3% of deaf and hard of hearing youth in the United States lost their hearing due to meningitis. This makes meningitis one of the leading post-natal causes of hearing loss.
Others find that approximately 10% of meningitis survivors in developed countries end up with permanent hearing loss. The hearing loss caused by meningitis can also be temporary.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membrane covering the brain and spinal cord. The inflammation may be caused by infection by viruses, bacteria or other microorganisms. A less common cause is by certain drugs. Meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord; therefore the condition is classified as a medical emergency.