Objective: To identify risk factors for adverse outcomes from bacterial meningitis.
Methodology: From a cohort of 166 children with bacterial meningitis who were studied prospectively, 130/158 (82%) survivors underwent neurological, neuropsychological, audiological and behaviour assessments 5-9 years following their illness.
Results: Major adverse outcomes included B/166 (4.8%) deaths and severe neurological, intellectual or audiological sequelae in 11/130 (8.5%) children followed. Another 24 (18.5%) had cognitive, auditory or behaviour disorders. Bivariate analysis found age < or = 12 months, tertiary referral, symptoms > 24 h before diagnosis, seizures, focal neurological signs, deteriorating conscious state in hospital, Streptococcus pneumoniae infection and serum sodium concentration < 130 mmol/L were associated with adverse outcomes. Multivariate analysis showed age < or = 12 months, symptoms > 24 h, seizures after 72 h in hospital and focal neurological signs as independent risk factors. These were present in 18/19 (95%) children with major sequelae, but absent in 9/24 (37.5%) children with minor disabilities.
Conclusions: As minor disabilities following meningitis cannot be predicted, all survivors require assessment during their early school years.