Acquired brain injury

Both meningitis and septicaemia can cause an acquired brain injury (ABI), an injury to the brain that has happened after birth

After-effects of meningitis - acquired brain injury LB

Severe injury to the brain after meningitis

  • Severe injury to the brain following meningitis is not common and is usually obvious within a few days of becoming ill
  • Complications can include epilepsy and cerebral palsy
  • An acquired brain injury (ABI) can also cause more subtle changes. The brain takes over 20 years to fully develop, so if a child or young adult has meningitis, development of the brain can be affected
  • The changes may not be apparent immediately after the illness and it may take months or even years before any changes are noticed


Our research project MOSAIC, published in Lancet Neurology, confirms that meningococcal disease (most common cause of bacterial meningitis) has a lifelong impact, leaving a significant number of survivors with reduced IQ and problems 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

Getting help

If you have been affected by an acquired brain injury following meningitis, we can help you. Call our Meningitis Helpline on 0808 80 10 388 or email to find out how.

  • When less visible difficulties following meningitis are long-term, you may need expert help and support 
  • Many professionals including GPs, paediatricians, specialist teachers and psychologists can help to reduce problems and make life easier
  • Patience and understanding from family, employers, schools and those working with sufferers is vital 
  • We have a number of resources available to help people in contact, or working with, anyone affected by meningitis, so that they understand what the changes could be after meningitis

Learning changes

Emotional changes

Meningitis support

Been affected by acquired brain injury?

Don’t face meningitis alone. Call our Meningitis Helpline on 0808 80 10 388 to speak to our experienced staff. You can access our free support or ask us any questions. Whatever your experience, whenever it was, please get in touch. Our support is for life.

Fact sheets

Structure and function of the brain

Physical effects of ABI - this fact sheet contains information on the following:

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

Sensory effects of ABI - this fact sheet contains information on the following:

ABI Speech, language and communication problems

Learning and Cognitive effects of ABI

Emotional and behavioural effects of ABI caused by meningitis and septicaemia

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