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One in three child meningitis survivors suffer 'after-effects'

A third of children who have experienced meningitis in the UK will be left with various “hidden after-effects”, it is claimed.

Research published in The Lancet Neurology found the most common type of bacterial meningitis in the UK - meningococcal group B disease (MenB), leaves children more likely to experience mental health problems later in life, with one in five likely to suffer from anxiety or behavioural disorders.

Furthermore, the study led by Professor Russell Viner at the UCL Institute of Child Health found meningitis also impacted on an individual's memory - both long and short term - and left survivors “significantly more likely” to experience epilepsy.

Child victims of meningitis can also be left with a “borderline” low IQ and are five times more likely to have speech and communication problems, potentially limiting their educational attainment.

“The hidden, yet devastating, after-effects of meningitis can often be dismissed,” said Sue Davie, Chief Executive of the Meningitus Trust - commissioner of the research.

“We hope that the new findings will encourage education and health professionals to recognise these, as well as the noticeable physical after-effects of meningitis, and push for children to receive the support they need and deserve.

"In addition, we hope that parents will feel more empowered by the research They need to be confident when advising professionals that their child might be suffering from the after-effects of meningitis in order to change perceptions, and ensure meningitis is fully investigated as a possible cause.”

As well as the “hidden” after-effects of meningitis, the research also highlighted the “devastating” physical side effects to the disease.

Sufferers were found to be five times more likely to have a “significant” hearing impairment, with 2.4% of survivors having bilateral hearing loss requiring a cochlear implant.