Meningitis – What YOU Need To Know To Protect Your Children

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As parents, our first priority before we leave the hospital with our newborn baby is to ensure that our child has been tested for all infections and is given all the recommended vaccinations. In short, we have to make sure that the child is at his healthiest.

I have 2 children, and I clearly remember the moment of their birth. That was the most surreal moment of my life. To look at the life I had created, and finally, be able to hold it in my arms. I remember when I first saw them, I said a quick prayer for their health and future. I am quite sure you did the same.

With the abundance of information, it is common for parents to get confused about the various precautionary measures they need to take to ensure the good health of their child. Though in most cases, the vaccination chart given to parents by their doctor serves as a reliable guide for them.

When I had my kids, I had no idea about most of the vaccines mentioned in the vaccination chart. I was as confused as anyone could be, and hence I was apprehensive if the vaccinations mentioned in those charts were safe and if they were really necessary. I did my research on them and got to know about those vaccines. While doing that research I realized that those charts don’t include a vaccine that can offer my children comprehensive protection against a deadly disease called meningitis. Let me tell you a little more about this disease.

What Is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection that affects the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. When affected, these membranes become swollen or infected. Meningitis is considered as one of the most deadly and feared childhood diseases. Acute bacterial meningitis mostly affects children under the age of 5 years.

Type Of Meningitis –

This can be caused by 3 types of germs –

  • Viral
  • Bacterial
  • Fungal

Understanding The 3 Types Of Infections –

  • Bacterial – This type of infection is violent, develops very quickly and is caused by a bacterium. Bacterial infections are known to be the most severe of all meningitis cases.
  • Viral– This is the most common cause of meningitis and is less severe compared to its bacterial strain.
  • Fungal/environmental – This can be severe, but it isn’t as common as the viral or bacterial strain.

Symptoms Of Meningitis –

Meningitis is not easy to spot. In many cases, it starts with symptoms that resemble fever. Most of the other symptoms only become apparent when the disease reaches an advanced stage. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Fits or seizures
  • High pitched crying
  • Discomfort in bright
  • lights
  • Drowsiness
  • Joint pain
  • Deep purplish or blackish rashes

Meningococcal Meningitis – The Devastating Disease

Although meningococcal meningitis is rare, it can be fatal and in severe cases, it can lead to death in just a few hours of the appearance of the symptoms (1). Did you know, 1 in 5 survivors of meningococcal meningitis are left with permanent and serious side effects (2)?

It can cause –

  • Kidney damage
  • Hearing loss
  • Brain damage
  • Can lead to amputation

How Can You Safeguard Your Child Against It?

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is a vaccine that can protect your child from meningococcal meningitis (MM). It is offered in the form of 2 doses, with the first dose given to babies from the age of 9 months onwards. Since there are fewer cases of meningococcal meningitis, MCV, is an optional vaccine. Hence, it is not a part of the routine immunization program,

As a new parent, you have every right to know which vaccines should be administered to your child. If your child is 9-months-old or older, you should talk to your health professional — pediatrician or doctor about getting him/her vaccinated with this vaccine and keep your child safe, because nothing is more precious than your dear child’s health.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of a public awareness initiative on meningitis supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.

This article is meant to help create awareness and spread knowledge. Any decision regarding your health and child’s health should be done after consultation with your doctor. Read my full disclosure here. While all efforts are made to keep articles updated, the speed of research in these fields mean the information often may change when more research knowledge is available. MomJunction or the author should be in no way held responsible in that case. Written after consultation and discussion with Dr. Abhijit Misra (MD Pediatrician – Healthwealthbridge board of advisors)

Author: Princy Khurana