May 1992

Long-term Outcome of Neonatal Meningitis

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics (Drs Franco, Cornelius, and Andrews), University of Louisville, Ky.

Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(5):567-571. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160170047014

•Objective.  —To determine the long-term outcome of neonatal bacterial meningitis and the relationship between the outcome and specific features in the acute stage of the disease; and to compare the outcome between infants with neonatal meningitis and high-risk infants without meningitis.

Design.  —Prospective clinical evaluations of 21 survivors of meningitis and 21 matched controls who were retrospectively selected from a high-risk patient population.

Setting.  —Program of follow-up performed at the Children and Youth Project's High Risk Center of the Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky. Neonates were inborn at a university hospital with a high-risk obstetric unit and level III nursery.

Patients.  —Twenty-six consecutive neonates born between 1970 and 1980 with culture-proven bacterial meningitis, excluding neonates with congenital neurologic defects. Nineteen of 21 survivors and 21 controls matched by age, sex, race, birth weight, and gestational age were followed up from 1 to 14 years (mean, 7.8 years). Both survivors and controls fell below the federal poverty guidelines.

Results.  —Gram-positive meningitis was twice as common as gram-negative meningitis with co-occurrence of meningitis and sepsis in half of the cases. Neonates with gram-positive meningitis and higher birth weight had a higher survival rate, but this finding was not statistically significant. The mortality rate in neonates with gram-negative meningitis was almost three times higher than that of neonates with gram-positive meningitis, but no significant difference was observed between their morbidity rates. Eight (38%) of 21 survivors were normal, while another eight (38%) and five (24%) had mild and moderate to severe sequelae, respectively. Survivors of meningitis had lower IQ scores and more severe sequelae than matched controls.

Conclusion.  —Neonatal bacterial meningitis results in poorer long-term outcome than in controls, but improved outcome compared with previous studies of neonatal meningitis.(AJDC. 1992;146:567-571)