Sequelae of Haemophilus influenzae type b meningitis in Aboriginal and non‐Aboriginal children under 5 years of age

C. Bower, J. Payne, R. Condon, D. Hendrie, A. Harris, R. Henderson

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Between 1984 and 1990, 257 cases of Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) meningitis occurred in children under five years of age in Western Australia. We obtained information on possible sequelae in 131 cases (all non‐Aboriginal) by medical record review and parental interview, and in a further 116 cases (60 non‐Aboriginal, 56 Aboriginal) by medical record review only; no follow‐up information was available for ten children (nine non‐Aboriginal, 1 Aboriginal). The incidence of Hib meningitis in children under five years of age was 26.3 per 100000 for non‐Aboriginal and 152.2 per 100000 for Aboriginal children. The case fatality rate was 3.5% for non‐Aboriginal children and 14.0% for Aboriginal children. Sequelae were recorded for 17.1% of non‐Aboriginal and 22.4% of Aboriginal children who survived Hib meningitis. Surviving Aboriginal children experienced severe sequelae following Hib meningitis almost three times more frequently than surviving non‐Aboriginal children (10.5%vs 3.6%), although mild and moderate sequelae were not more common in Aboriginal children. The information on incidence and severity of sequelae in this study was obtained by chart review and parental interview, and hence may be subject to error or bias, particularly for mild and moderate disabilities. Outcomes like death and severe sequelae, such as cerebral palsy and profound intellectual and physical disability, are less subject to bias. Of Aboriginal children who contracted Hib meningitis in Western Australia over the study period, 22.8% either died or had severe sequelae, while only 7.0% of non‐Aboriginal children experienced these severe outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-397
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal health
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • meningitis
  • sequelae

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