Turns out, severe infections that have led to hospitalisation during childhood are associated with lower school achievement in adolescence. According to a new research conducted at Wolters Kluwer Health, higher numbers of hospitalizations for infections are associated with a reduced probability of completing ninth grade, as well as with lower test scores. The study included nationwide data of several children. The researchers looked at two measures of childhood infections i.e. hospital admission for infections, an indicator of moderate to severe infections, and prescriptions for anti-infective drugs (such as antibiotics) in primary care, reflecting less-severe infections.
These infection measures were then analyzed for their association with two measures of later school achievement, completing ninth grade and average scores on the final ninth-grade school examinations.
Any hospital contact for infections was associated with a reduction in the odds of completing ninth grade. The more hospitalizations for infections, the lower the odds of reaching the educational milestone were found during the study.
Primary care treatment with anti-infective drugs – indicating the presence of common, less-severe infections was unrelated to the chances of completing ninth grade. In general, the study found that less-severe infections not requiring hospitalization did not affect the children’s cognitive ability.
The study added to a growing body of research linking poorer school achievement to an increased risk of adverse health and socioeconomic outcomes later in life. Aside from brain damage caused by serious infections like rubella or encephalitis, there was a growing awareness that a wider range of infections may have a more subtle or delayed impact on brain function.
The findings are published in the Journal of The Pediatric Infectious Disease.