Despite major improvements in infant intensive care, neonatal meningitis remains a devastating disease. Survivors of bacterial meningitis are at high-risk for life-long neurological handicaps, and despite a reduction in mortality, the morbidity of neonatal meningitis has not changed substantially over the last thirty years. A substantial improvement in outcome is unlikely to result from further refinements in ICU technology or new antibiotics. However, recent advancements in our understanding of the pathogenesis of meningitis and the pathophysiology of brain injury in meningitis may provide the opportunity to interrupt the mechanisms that allow bacteria to enter the central nervous system and initiate the inflammatory response. Strategies aimed at modulating the inflammatory response must be chosen carefully, so as not to disrupt normal host responses needed for the infant to recover from the infectious episode.
Copyright 2001 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.