Objective: To determine the clinical consequences of acquiring Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection during early childhood in children with cystic fibrosis (CF).
Design: Prospective, observational cohort study of 56 children with CF identified by newborn screening during 1990-92. Each child underwent an annual bronchial lavage during the first 2 to 3 years of life. Clinical outcome was determined at 7 years of age.
Results: P aeruginosa infection was diagnosed in 24 (43%) cohort subjects. Four children died before 7 years of age, all of whom had been infected with a multi-resistant, mucoid strain of P aeruginosa (P =.04). In survivors, P aeruginosa infection was associated with significantly increased morbidity as measured by lower National Institutes of Health scores, greater variability in lung function, increased time in the hospital, and higher rates of recombinant human deoxyribonuclease therapy (P <.01). In this young CF cohort, best forced expiratory volume in 1 second was an insensitive measure of increased morbidity.
Conclusions: Acquisition of P aeruginosa was common by 7 years of age in this CF birth cohort and was associated with increased morbidity and mortality. An improved disease severity score would improve the evaluation and study of early CF lung disease.