Aims: (1) To compare habitual activity levels in prepubescent and pubescent boys and girls with different degrees of CF lung disease severity and healthy controls. (2) To assess the relation between habitual activity levels and measures of fitness, lung function, nutrition, pancreatic status, and quality of life.
Methods and results: A total of 148 children (75 girls and 73 boys) with CF and matched controls were studied. Regardless of disease severity, there were no differences in habitual activity between prepubescent boys and girls with CF. Pubescent boys with CF were significantly more active than girls with the same degree of disease severity. There were no significant differences in habitual activity between prepubescent children with CF and controls. Pubescent children with mild CF were significantly more active than controls, but those with moderate to severe disease were less active than controls. The best correlates with habitual activity levels were anaerobic power, aerobic capacity, and quality of life. In children with moderate to severe disease, nutrition status correlated significantly with activity levels. The impact of pancreatic status on activity levels and other measures of fitness was most apparent in pubescent girls.
Conclusion: Gender differences in habitual activity were evident only after the onset of puberty. The impact of pancreatic insufficiency on measures of fitness and habitual activity was greatest in pubescent females. The reason for this gender difference may be an interplay of genetic, hormonal, and societal factors and is the focus of a longitudinal study.