Background: Children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) are at high risk for developing hyperglycemia. Hyperglycemic adult ALL patients have shorter remissions, more infections, and increased mortality. No corresponding data are available in children. We hypothesized that children with ALL who become hyperglycemic during induction chemotherapy have an increased risk for infection during their first year of treatment.
Procedure: We conducted a retrospective chart review of 135 patients diagnosed with ALL during 1999-2001 at Texas Children's Hospital. Infectious outcomes during the first year of therapy were compared in three groups patients based on blood glucose concentrations during induction therapy: euglycemic (<140 mg/dl), mild hyperglycemic (MH) (140-199 mg/dl) and overt hyperglycemic (OH) (blood glucose >200 mg/dl).
Results: Seventy-five (56%) patients met criteria for either MH (21%) or OH (35%). Hyperglycemia was more prevalent in older children (P < 0.001) and those at risk for being overweight (BMI% >85%) at diagnosis (P < 0.01). Patients with MH and OH were 2.5 times (95% CI 1.0-6.2) and 2.1 times (95% CI 1.0-4.6) more likely to have documented infections, respectively. Patients with OH were 4.2 times (95% CI 1.5-12) more likely to have bacteremia/fungemia, 3.8 times (95% CI 1.2-11.6) more likely to have cellulitis, and 4.0 times (95% CI 1.7-9.3) more likely to be admitted for fever and neutropenia than the euglycemia group.
Conclusion: Hyperglycemia, especially when overt, may be a previously unrecognized risk factor of infectious complications in children with ALL during the first year of treatment.