Bacterial meningitis in infants: the epidemiology, clinical features, and prognostic factors

Brain Dev. 2004 Apr;26(3):168-75. doi: 10.1016/S0387-7604(03)00122-0.


This 16-year (1986-2001) retrospective study enrolled 80 infantile patients (aged, 30-365 days old) with culture-proven bacterial meningitis. The most prevalent pathogens were Salmonellaspecies, Streptococcus (S.) agalactiae, Escherichia (E.) coli, and Haemophilus (H.) influenzae, accounting for about 59% of the episodes. Meningitis caused by Salmonella species, E. coli and H. influenzae occurs more often in the older infants, while that caused by S. agalactiae occurs more often in young infants. Our study revealed a decrease in the proportion of Salmonella meningitis from 27% in the first 8 years to 9% in the second 8 years with E. coli replacing Salmonella species as the leading pathogen of this disease during the second period. Overall mortality rate for both periods of time was 11%. However, if we take those with undesirable poor outcomes into account, 43% of patients could be considered treatment failures. The study also reveals a high prevalence of neurological complications when this disease is caused by H. influenzae, S. pneumoniae, and Salmonella species. Stepwise logistic regression analysis revealed that only initial changing levels of consciousness (P = 0.006) were independently associated with treatment failure. The most frequent neurological complications associated with this disease included subdural empyema, hydrocephalus, cerebral infarctions, and seizures. Because therapeutic regimens may require attention to the eradication of bacterial pathogen but also the neurological complications, early diagnosis and choice of appropriate antibiotics are essential to increasing the possibility of survival.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Child, Preschool
  • Community-Acquired Infections / drug therapy
  • Community-Acquired Infections / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / drug therapy
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / drug therapy
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / epidemiology*
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / physiopathology
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Failure


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents