OBJECTIVES: To examine the long-term motor and neurocognitive outcome of children with acute encephalitis and to look at possible prognostic factors.
METHODS: Children who were treated for acute encephalitis in 2000–2010 were reevaluated. All children and their parents were interviewed by using structured questionnaires, and the children underwent full neurologic examinations, along with comprehensive neurocognitive, attention, and behavioral assessments.
RESULTS: Of the 47 children enrolled, 1 died and 29 had neurologic sequelae, including motor impairment, mental retardation, epilepsy, and attention and learning disorders. Children with encephalitis had a significantly higher prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (50%) and learning disabilities (20%) compared with the reported rate (5%–10%) in the general population of Israel (P < .05) and lower IQ scores. Lower intelligence scores and significantly impaired attention and learning were found even in children who were considered fully recovered at the time of discharge. Risk factors for long-term severe neurologic sequelae were focal signs in the neurologic examination and abnormal neuroimaging on admission, confirmed infectious cause, and long hospital stay.
CONCLUSIONS Encephalitis in children may be associated with significant long-term neurologic sequelae. Significant cognitive impairment, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and learning disabilities are common, and even children who were considered fully recovered at discharge may be significantly affected. Neuropsychological testing should be recommended for survivors of childhood encephalitis.
- Accepted December 13, 2013.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics