Oropharyngeal aspiration (OPA) of food and fluids is known to be associated with pneumonia in dysphagic children with neurological disease and direct causality is often assumed. However, little is known about the relationship between OPA and pneumonia in medically complex children when other possible risk factors for pneumonia are considered. We examined the association of World Health Organization (WHO)-defined pneumonia in a heterogeneous group of children with swallowing dysfunction identified by a videofluoroscopic swallow study (VFSS). A retrospective chart review of 150 children (aged 2 weeks to 20 years) was undertaken to determine the relationship between pneumonia and (i) type of swallowing dysfunction (including OPA), (ii) consistency of aspirated food/fluid, and (iii) other factors including multisystem involvement and age (<or=1 year or >1 year). In univariate analysis, the odds ratio (OR) for pneumonia was significantly increased in children with post-swallow residue (PSR) (OR 2.5) or aspiration on thin fluids (OR 2.4), but not with aspiration of thick fluids or purees. In multi-logistic regression, type of swallowing dysfunction or aspirated food/fluid were no longer significant. Instead, pneumonia was significantly associated with diagnosis of asthma (OR 13.25), Down syndrome (OR 22.10), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (OR 4.28), or history of LRTI (OR 8.28), moist cough (OR 9.17) or oxygen supplementation (OR 6.19). Children with multisystem involvement demonstrated a higher association with pneumonia, but no difference was found for age. We conclude that the impact of OPA on development of pneumonia is considerably reduced once other factors in children with multisystem involvement are taken into account.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.