Effects of Early Cerebral Malaria on Cognitive Ability in Senegalese Children

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ABSTRACT.Twenty-nine Senegalese children with a history of cerebral malaria (CM) performed more poorly on the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) Simultaneous Processing domain and on the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA) attention capacity indicators in comparison with a matched control group. Thus, CM can disrupt neuropsychological integration during critical developmental periods, impacting on global neurological integrity, attentional vigilance, perceptual acuity, and subsequent development of visual-spatial processing and memory foundational to global cognitive ability. A subsequent structural equation model confirmed that rural children are at greater risk for CM, subsequent attention deficits, and other developmental risk factors in addition to the CM impact on K-ABC performance. We document CM as one of a host of developmental risk factors within the complex web of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, which limit children’s ability to achieve their full intellectual potential and, thus, extend the human cost of the disease beyond general measures of mortality and morbidity.

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