Effects of early cerebral malaria on cognitive ability in Senegalese children

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2002 Oct;23(5):353-64. doi: 10.1097/00004703-200210000-00010.


Twenty-nine Senegalese children with a history of cerebral malaria (CM) performed more poorly on the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) Simultaneous Processing domain and on the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) attention capacity indicators in comparison with a matched control group. Thus, CM can disrupt neuropsychological integration during critical developmental periods, impacting on global neurological integrity, attentional vigilance, perceptual acuity, and subsequent development of visual-spatial processing and memory foundational to global cognitive ability. A subsequent structural equation model confirmed that rural children are at greater risk for CM, subsequent attention deficits, and other developmental risk factors in addition to the CM impact on K-ABC performance. We document CM as one of a host of developmental risk factors within the complex web of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, which limit children's ability to achieve their full intellectual potential and, thus, extend the human cost of the disease beyond general measures of mortality and morbidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Edema / parasitology
  • Brain Edema / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / ethnology*
  • Cognition Disorders / parasitology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malaria, Cerebral / complications*
  • Malaria, Cerebral / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Senegal / epidemiology
  • Time Factors