Stress link to meningitis say experts

By Tina Calder
SCIENTISTS are studying the link between meningitis in teenagers and stress.
Research taking take place in St Mary’s hospital London will investigate why young people are more susceptible to the disease.
The illness which can be potentially fatal, affects the brain. In the last three years UK cases have more than doubled in teens.
One of the main theories is that stress increases susceptibility to contracting the disease.
Dr Robert Booy, a lecturer in paediatrics at St Mary’s said: “We will be looking at things like their social behaviours, like smoking, like kissing, going to parties. We are looking at the stresses they undergo like the psychological factors of leaving home and going to university. We will also be looking at biological factors.”
The cases Dr Booy is most interested is the recent upsurge in cases in adolescents aged 15 to 19.
It is unknown as yet whether any students from Northern Ireland will be taking part in the research but it is believed Dr Booy and his team will look at two groups of teenagers, one affected by meningococcal disease and the other group not affected. Results are expected to be due out in 2009.