Introduction: Severe and chronic illness can alter the bacterial flora carried in the oropharynx and gut. There are little data on the bacterial flora of children with chronic neurologic impairment.
Objectives: To assess carriage of abnormal bacterial flora, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, infection, and mortality in children with cerebral palsy (CP) admitted for pediatric intensive care.
Design: Prospective observational single center cohort study.
Setting: Twenty-bed regional pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) in a university-affiliated tertiary referral children's hospital.
Patients: All children with an established diagnosis of CP admitted to PICU and ventilated for four or more days during a 6-yr period.
Measurements: Surveillance samples of throat and rectum were taken at admission to PICU and twice a week thereafter. Diagnostic samples were obtained on clinical indication.
Main results: Fifty-three children with a total of 77 admissions were included. Most (90%) of the children with CP had moderate to severe functional limitations. Eighty-nine percent of the children with CP (47/53) carried abnormal bacterial flora/potential pathogens, most frequently Pseudomonas and Klebsiella species. Forty-seven percent (22/47) had antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Thirty-five children (66%) developed 86 infections during their PICU admission. Lower airways and blood were the two most commonly infected sites-Pseudomonas aeruginosa and coagulase-negative Staphylococci, the predominant infecting microorganisms. Sixty-five percent (56/86) of infections were primary endogenous infections, 21% (18/86) exogenous, and 9% (8/86) secondary endogenous. Carriage of abnormal bacterial flora, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and infection rate was significantly higher than that of children of comparative age without CP ventilated for four or more days on PICU. Nine (17%) of the children with CP died in PICU and 4 of the deaths were infection related.
Conclusions: In children with moderate to severe chronic neurologic impairment admitted to PICU, there is a high rate of carriage of abnormal bacteria/potential pathogens, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and infection.