Variation in Bacterial Respiratory Culture Results in Children With Neurologic Impairment

Hosp Pediatr. 2021 Nov;11(11):e326-e333. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2020-005314.


Objectives: To examine bacterial respiratory cultures in children with neurologic impairment (NI) (eg, cerebral palsy), both with and without tracheostomies, who were hospitalized with acute respiratory infections (ARIs) (eg, pneumonia) and to compare culture results across hospitals and age groups.

Methods: This multicenter retrospective cohort study included ARI hospitalizations for children aged 1 to 18 years with NI between 2007 and 2012 who had a bacterial respiratory culture obtained within 2 days of admission. Data from 5 children's hospitals in the Pediatric Health Information System Plus database were used. Organisms consistent with oral flora and nonspeciated organisms were omitted from analysis. The prevalence of positive respiratory culture results and the prevalence of organisms identified were compared across hospitals and age groups and in subanalyses of children with and without tracheostomies by using generalized estimating equations to account for within-patient clustering.

Results: Of 4900 hospitalizations, 693 from 485 children had bacterial respiratory cultures obtained. Of these, 54.5% had positive results, although this varied across hospitals (range 18.6%-83.2%; P < .001). Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus were the most commonly identified organisms across hospitals and age groups and in patients with and without tracheostomies. Large variation in growth prevalence was identified across hospitals but not age groups.

Conclusions: The bacteriology of ARI in hospitalized children with NI differs from that of otherwise healthy children. Significant variation in prevalence of positive bacterial respiratory culture results and organism growth were observed across hospitals, which may be secondary to local environmental factors and microbiology reporting practices.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Nervous System Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Staphylococcal Infections*