Until the year 2000, systematic cystic fibrosis (CF) neonatal screening was only performed in a few regions of France. The Brittany region began in 1989, but not the neighboring region of Loire-Atlantique. The present study compares the clinical evolution of both affected populations 10 years after screening was started. Although the 77 screened and 36 nonscreened children were followed in different CF centers, they were included in similar care protocols. The clinical characteristics at diagnosis and their evolution over a 10-year period of all the children affected with CF and born between January 1, 1989 and December 31, 1998, excluding those with meconium ileus, were compared. There were no significant differences in sex ratio, gestational age, anthropometric data at birth, frequency of deltaF508 homozygotes, proportion of pancreatic-insufficient patients, and mean age between the two populations. Age at diagnosis was lower in the screened group (38 days vs. 472 days, P < 10(-7)), as was the delay in supplementation with pancreatic enzymes (1.7 months vs.15.9 months, P < 10(-7)). The proportion of children who were hospitalized at least once was higher among the nonscreened than the screened patients (86% vs. 49%, P < 10(-4)). Z-scores for weight and height were significantly better in the screened population, not only in the first years of life, but also at 5 years old for height and 8 years old for weight. The Shwachman and Brasfield scores were higher among the screened children during the whole period of follow-up. No significant differences in colonization by Pseudomonas aeruginosa nor in lung function were found. Given the homogeneity in the characteristics and the follow-up of both populations, the benefits in terms of nutrition and clinical well-being of neonatal screening appear to be clear, thus confirming the advantages of its general implementation.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.