Neurological complications of varicella in childhood: case series and a systematic review of the literature

Vaccine. 2012 Aug 24;30(39):5785-90. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.05.057. Epub 2012 Jun 5.


Although varicella has usually an uncomplicated course in early childhood, several neurological complications may occur. We conducted a study to review the type and the rate of varicella neurological complications in a case series of hospitalized immunologically healthy children over nearly a 8 year period. We also systematically reviewed data from the literature to estimate the rate of varicella neurological complications. In our case reports, the proportion of neurological complications among all those hospitalized for varicella was of 21.7% (CI 17.9-26%). The pooled prevalence of neurological complications resulting from the systematic review of the literature identifies the likelihood of such complications in the range of 13.9-20.4%. Although neurological complications of chickenpox do not frequently result in permanent sequelae, they represent significant determinants of prolonged hospital stay and of other indirect costs. The obtained results may be useful for estimating costs associated with hospitalization from varicella in cost-benefit analysis for immunization.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chickenpox / complications*
  • Chickenpox / economics
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications*
  • Nervous System Diseases / economics
  • Nervous System Diseases / virology