Childhood infections lead to low academic scores: Study

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Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : Turns out, infections that lead to hospitalisation during childhood may affect the academic performance in later life, a new study reveals. A team of researchers from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark found that suggested that higher numbers of hospitalisations for infections were linked with low test scores and reduced possibility of completing ninth grade. The study has been published in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

“Our findings extend our understanding regarding the association between particularly severe infections during childhood and adolescence and cognitive achievement," said co-author Kohler-Fosberg. 

In order to conduct the study, researchers included nationwide data of 598,553 children born in Denmark between 1987 and 1997. They searched for hospital admission for infections, an indicator of moderate to severe infections and prescriptions for anti-infective drugs in primary care, highlighting less-severe infections.

The selected infection measures were examined with respect to their association with two measures of later school achievement completing ninth grade and average scores on the final ninth-grade school examinations.

The experts found that any hospital contact for infections was associated with an 18 per cent reduction in the chances of completing ninth grade.

The more hospitalisations for infections, the lower the odds of reaching this educational milestone, children with five or more infections requiring hospitalisation had a 38 percent reduction in the odds of completing ninth grade.

The sample children who have completed ninth grade, admission in hospitals for infections was associated with a small but noteworthy decrease in final exam scores.

However, primary health care with anti-infective drugs indicating the presence of common, less-severe infections was unrelated to the chances of completing ninth grade.

Apart from brain damage caused by serious infections like rubella or encephalitis, "there is growing awareness that a wider range of infections may have a more subtle and/or delayed impact on brain function," the researchers found.