Cognitive outcomes and psychiatric symptoms of retinopathy-positive cerebral malaria: Cohort description and baseline results

Rachel Brim, Sebastian Mboma, Margaret Semrud-Clikeman, Sam Kampondeni, Jed Magen, Terrie Taylor, John Langfitt

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22 Scopus citations


Cerebral malaria (CM) is a common cause of death and disability among children in sub-Saharan Africa. Many prior studies of neuropsychiatric morbidity have been limited by a cross-sectional design or a short duration of follow-up. Most have included subjects who may have presented with coma due to a disease process other than CM. No studies have assessed the relationship between magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings and long-term outcomes. The Cognitive Outcomes and Psychiatric symptoms of retinopathy-positive CM (COPS) cohort is the first large (N = 221) prospectively recruited cohort of stringently defined cases of CM and hospital-based, age-matched, non-CM controls in whom cognitive and psychiatric outcomes are assessed with standardized measures semi-annually for up to 5 years. We report baseline characteristics of the cohort and outcomes at 1 month. At enrollment,CMcases were more likely to come from families with fewer socioeconomic resources and to have health characteristics that increase risk for malaria. In children younger than 5 years, cases were delayed in motor, language, and social development by approximately 6 months, compared with controls. More significant delays occurred in those with MRI abnormalities at the 1-month follow-up visit. There were no differences between cases and controls in inhibitory self-control, nor in cognitive function in children ≥ 5 years of age. The latter finding may be related to the smaller sample size, case-control imbalance in socioeconomic status, or the use of cognitive and behavioral assessments that are less culturally appropriate to this population. Continued follow-up will help determine predictors of long-term outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-231
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017


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