Infection Alone Not Getting Cystric Fibrosis' Goat

Cystric Fibrosis is an indicator of future health issues

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cystic fibrosis (CF) needs more than a little infection to get its goat. Prior studies have indicated that lung infections in infants and small children with cystic fibrosis was highly indicative of continuing poor lung function in the teenage years.

A new study contradicts that earlier finding. This new finding from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill says for cystic fibrosis patients, the best indicator of poor lung function in adolescents with CF  is simply  poor lung function early in infancy and toddler years. The disease just appears to continue its progression and doesn't appear to be exacerbated by an infection alone.

"Young children with cystic fibrosis need good hygiene, a clean home environment  and healthy nutrition."

Study author Jessica Pittman, MD, MPH, fellow in pediatric pulmonology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill concludes that the study shows a childhood infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa by itself doesn't continue lung function decline later in life.

Pittman noted this finding implies there are other factors during infancy and childhood in children with cystic fibrosis which must drive  lung function from five years and onwards. The possible factors include environment, nutrition and genes.

Pittman also observed that their findings echo previous studies suggesting that CF lung disease begins in very early childhood. Pittman's study may also suggest that earlier intervention in infants with cystic fibrosis, including infection prevention, nutrition improvement and mucous removal may help these infants later in life.

The study showed that children with low lung function at age 6 continued to have low lung function in adolescence. This evidence remained true whether the children were infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa or not.

Children with low lung function in early childhood deteriorated much more quickly than those in early childhood with better lung function. It appears where a child started predicted where they would finish without anything to do with the infection.

The study also revealed that higher body mass index (BMI) in children aged two to four had better lung function later in life than those with lower BMI. A better nutritional status as toddlers seemed to help lung function later in life.

Pittman also suggests further studies to identify the exact causes of lung functions deterioration in children with cystic fibrosis.

The Study

  • Records in the Colorado Newborn Screening Database to identify 172 CF patients
  • Data gathered included body mass index, lung function between 6 to 8 years of age and in adolescence and respiratory culture results before 6 years of age
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Review Date: 
May 17, 2011
Last Updated:
May 21, 2011