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Acquired brain injury in babies and children

Acquired brain injury (ABI) is sometimes described as a “hidden” disability.

Some children are left with the physical effects of ABI such as difficulties with movement and co-ordination. These are usually evident, and noticeable, soon after illness and often before a child is discharged from hospital. However, for many children the full impact of an ABI continues to emerge over time. The impact of ABI caused by meningitis is different for each child and depends on many factors including severity of illness, age and developmental stage of the brain.

This fact sheet briefly describes the wide and varied impact of ABI.

The brain is responsible for every activity or function in the body. It is divided into areas or lobes, with each lobe having specific functions. The impact of an ABI will depend on which lobes have been affected.

This fact sheet describes the structure of the brain.

If you think that your child may have an ABI it is important to raise your concerns with your GP and your child’s teacher. Make sure they are aware that your child has had meningitis, even if this was some time ago.

Our research project MOSAIC, published in Lancet Neurology, confirms that meningococcal disease (most common cause of bacterial meningitis) can have a lifelong impact, leaving a significant number of survivors with reduced IQ and difficulties with memory, concentration and planning.

The research also shows that survivors are significantly more likely to need additional educational support or experience mental health disorders and physical disability.

Download the MOSAIC summary of results.

We can help

Acquired brain injury can have a significant impact on the child affected, and their family and friends. For support and information, please contact our helpline.

More information

The following fact sheets provide more information about the effects of ABI.

Physical effects of ABI – with information on:

  • Hydrocephalus (water on the brain)
  • Epilepsy
  • Movement and co-ordination difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue, appetite and weight change, incontinence

Sensory effects of ABI – with information on:

  • Hearing loss
  • Sight loss and visual disturbance
  • Touch, taste, smell

Speech, language and communication difficulties after ABI

Learning and cognitive effects of ABI

Emotional and behavioural effects of ABI

Been affected or have questions?

Contact our nurse-led helpline on 0808 80 10 388 or email helpline@meningitisnow.org.