Objectives: Patients surviving retinopathy-positive cerebral malaria (CM) are at high risk for the development of epilepsy, developmental disabilities, and behavioral abnormalities. We aimed to establish whether retinopathy-negative CM is also a risk factor for these outcomes. Methods: Between 2005 and 2007, survivors of CM and concurrently hospitalized controls in Blantyre, Malawi, were followed to assess the development of neurologic abnormalities. At discharge and every 3 months thereafter, incident cases of epilepsy and developmental disabilities were ascertained using screening questionnaires and confirmatory neurologic examinations. Incident cases of epilepsy and developmental disabilities were compared in retinopathy-negative CM survivors to controls and retinopathy-positive CM survivors. Results: Thirty-five retinopathy-negative CM survivors were enrolled. Their neurologic outcomes were compared to 132 retinopathy-positive CM survivors and 272 controls. Compared to survivors of retinopathy-positive CM, children without malaria retinopathy have an equal odds of adverse neurologic outcome (odds ratio [OR] = 1.0, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.4-2.2). Eleven of 35 survivors of retinopathy-negative CM had at least 1 adverse neurologic outcome compared to 2 of 272 controls (OR 61.9, 95% CI 13.0-295.5). In retinopathy-negative CM survivors, a Blantyre Coma Scale score <1 on admission was associated with an adverse outcome. Conclusions: Compared with controls, children surviving either retinopathy-negative or -positive CM are at similar high risk for adverse neurologic outcomes. Studies to evaluate preventive and therapeutic strategies in children with both retinopathy-negative and -positive CM are needed to improve mortality, morbidity, or both.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology