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Maternal-fetal listeriosis poses severe threats to both mothers and infants, including risks of miscarriage, premature birth, or serious neonatal infection. A recent study led by scientists and physicians from renowned institutions delves into the long-term consequences of neonatal listeriosis on surviving infants. The team from the Institut Pasteur, Universit Paris Cit , Paris Public Hospital Network (AP-HP), and Inserm embarked on an extensive study, monitoring children infected with Listeria monocytogenes bacterium up to the age of 5. They compared the developmental trajectories of these children with those of uninfected gestational age-matched counterparts, aiming to unravel the lasting impacts of neonatal listeriosis.
Published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, the study outcomes highlight that the long-term consequences of neonatal listeriosis primarily stem from prematurity. This crucial finding sheds light on the key determinant shaping the health outcomes of infants affected by this severe bacterial infection.
The research outcomes hold significant implications for parents, providing them with essential information about the potential impacts on their children's health development. By understanding the association between neonatal listeriosis, prematurity, and potential neurodevelopmental sequelae, parents can make informed decisions regarding their child's well-being.
Pregnant women are well aware of the risks associated with listeriosis during pregnancy. Advised to avoid certain foods, such as unpasteurized cheeses, cold meats, and undercooked ready-to-eat foods, expectant mothers aim to mitigate the severe consequences listeria infection can have on both maternal and neonatal health.
Listeria monocytogenes, the bacterium in question, can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or severe infections in newborns, including septicemia or lung/neurological infections. In France alone, approximately 40 newborns are affected each year, underscoring the significance of understanding the long-term implications for surviving infants.
The research team has been diligently studying Listeria strains and listeriosis patients in France since 2009. This comprehensive approach aims to elucidate the characteristics of the disease, providing insights into how infants recover and develop after antibiotic treatment.
The scientists leveraged the French MONALISA cohort, capturing all confirmed cases of listeriosis, to conduct an in-depth analysis of the long-term neurological and neurodevelopmental consequences in surviving children. The active participation of families allowed for unprecedented insights into the consequences of neonatal listeriosis as children entered a key developmental stage upon entering primary school.
The multidisciplinary team, comprising infectious disease experts, pediatricians, neuropsychologists, and epidemiologists, followed around 50 children born to mothers with listeriosis at different pregnancy stages. At age 5, a comprehensive health assessment included cognitive, motor, and visual development evaluations, offering a holistic view of potential sequelae.
Comparing results with uninfected gestational age-matched children from national cohorts revealed that two-thirds of infants born with listeriosis exhibited sequelae at age 5. These included cognitive dysfunction, motor coordination problems, and visual or hearing impairment, with prematurity identified as the main contributing factor. The study reinforces the understanding that prematurity, rather than the infection itself, significantly influences the long-term outcomes of neonatal listeriosis. This insight enables clinicians to provide informed guidance to parents and supports the implementation of systematic long-term screening for early intervention and tailored educational support.