Repeated Less Serious Infections Do Not Affect Children’s School Performance Interview with:

Ole Köhler-Forsberg, PhD Student Department of Clinical Medicine - Psychosis Research Unit Aarhus University

Ole Köhler-Forsberg

Ole Köhler-Forsberg, PhD Student
Department of Clinical Medicine – Psychosis Research Unit
Aarhus University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Prior studies have demonstrated that serious illnesses, for example severe infections such as measles, rubella or meningitis, which we vaccinate against, affect the brain and thereby the child’s ability to learn. From this we know that illnesses and in particular infections to some degree have an influence on our brains.

In this study, we decided to look at how children perform following the less severe infections that many of them frequently experience during their childhood. After all, this is the largest group of children, but this has not been studied previously in such a large population.

Basically, we found that among 598,553 Danes born 1987-1997, the less severe infections treated with anti-infective agents during childhood did not affect the child´s ability to perform well in school, nonetheless whether 5, 10 or 15 prescriptions had been prescribed.

On the other hand, we found that children who had been admitted to hospital as a result of severe infections had a lower chance of completing 9th grade. The decisive factor is therefore the severity of the disease, but not necessarily the number of sick days. What should readers take away from your report? 

Response: The important message is that the less severe infections that are treated with anti-infective agents have no negative impact on the child´s cognitive ability. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: It is important to further investigate whether specific infections may impact on the developing brain, but also to further explore new treatments and vaccines against infections. As it has been shown in our study and previous studies, severe infections can potentially affect the brain and the cognitive abilitity, hence it is important to have efficient treatments against these severe infections.

Funding: The Lundbeck Foundation, the Stanley Foundation and the Independent Research Fund Denmark. 


Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2017 Dec 22. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000001869. [Epub ahead of print]

Childhood Infections and Subsequent School Achievement Among 598,553 Danish Children.

Köhler-Forsberg O1,2, Sørensen HJ2,3, Nordentoft M2,3, McGrath JJ4,5,6, Benros ME2, Petersen L3,6,7. 

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Last Updated on February 24, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD