Rationale: There are limited objective measures of the severity of lung disease before children are able to routinely perform spirometry, generally at age 6 years. Identifying risk factors for reduced lung function at age 6 provides opportunities to intervene and slow the progression of cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease.
Objectives: To evaluate early childhood predictors of lung function at age 6-7 in a large U.S. CF cohort in the current era of widespread early eradication therapy for Pseudomonas aeruginosa (P. aeruginosa).
Methods: Participants were children with CF enrolled before age 4 in the Early Pseudomonas Infection Control (EPIC) Observational Study, a multicenter, longitudinal study that enrolled P. aeruginosa-negative children not exceeding 12 years of age. Linear regression was used to estimate the association between potential early childhood risk factors and the best FEV1% predicted at age 6-7 years.
Measurements and main results: Four hundred and eighty-four children (of 1,797 enrolled in the EPIC Observational Study) met the eligibility criteria for this analysis. Mean (SD) age at enrollment was 2.0 (1.3) years. In a multivariable model adjusted for age at enrollment, the following risk factors were significantly associated with lower mean (95% confidence interval) FEV1% predicted at age 6-7: weight percentile less than 10% during the year of enrollment (-5.3 [-9.1, -1.5]), P. aeruginosa positive during the year of enrollment (-2.8 [-5.7, 0.0]), crackles or wheeze during the year of enrollment (-5.7 [-9.4, -1.9]), mother's education of high school or less (-4.2 [-7.3, -1.2]), and mother smoked during pregnancy (-4.4 [-8.8, 0.1]).
Conclusions: In this large U.S. cohort, we identified several early childhood risk factors for lower FEV1 at age 6-7 years, most of which are modifiable. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00097773).
Keywords: cystic fibrosis; lung function; microbiology; tobacco smoke pollution.