VoICE Immunization Evidence: Long term disability
Long Term Disability
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Episodes of vaccine-preventable diseases in childhood can lead to health consequences later in life.
Those who experienced more frequent or longer episodes of diarrhea as an infant were more likely to have metabolic syndrome as adults. A longitudinal study in Guatemala found that diarrhea episodes in early infancy are associated with chronic health issues later in life. Each 1% increase in diarrhea burden in children 0-6 months was associated with a 3% increased prevalence in high blood pressure in adulthood. Similarly, a 1% increase in diarrhea burden in older infants 6-12 months was associated with a 4% increased prevalence in elevated waist circumference in adulthood.
Children who survive bacterial meningitis are at high risk of lifelong disabilities as a result of the infection.
In a study of data from England & Wales, Denmark and the US, it was shown that measles infection suppresses the immune system for up to 3 years after infection, increasing the risk of death due to other childhood infections during that time. This means that prevention of measles significantly impacts overall health during critical childhood years.
In Gambia, 58% of children who survived a bout of pneumococcal meningitis “had clinical sequelae; half of them had major disability preventing normal adaptation to social life” (mental retardation, hearing loss, motor abnormalities, seizures).
In a systematic literature review of studies in Africa, the authors conclude: “Bacterial meningitis in Africa is associated with high mortality and risk of neuropsychological sequelae. Pneumococcal and Hib meningitis kill approximately one third of affected children and cause clinically evident sequelae in a quarter of survivors prior to hospital discharge. The three leading causes of bacterial meningitis are vaccine preventable, and routine use of conjugate vaccines could provide substantial health and economic benefits through the prevention of childhood meningitis cases, deaths, and disability.”