Respiratory viruses in healthy infants and infants with cystic fibrosis: a prospective cohort study

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Abstract

Rationale

Acute viral respiratory tract infections in children with cystic fibrosis (CF) are known causes of disease exacerbation. The role of viral infections during infancy is, however, less known, although early infancy is thought to be a crucial period for CF disease development.

Rationale

We prospectively assessed symptomatic and asymptomatic viral detection in the first year of life in infants with CF and healthy controls.

Methods

In a prospective cohort study, we included 31 infants with CF from the Swiss Cystic Fibrosis Infant Lung Development Cohort and 32 unselected, healthy infants from the Basel Bern Infant Lung Development Cohort and followed them throughout the first year of life. Respiratory symptoms were assessed by weekly telephone interviews. Biweekly nasal swabs were analysed for 10 different viruses and two atypical bacteria with real-time seven duplex PCR (CF=561, controls=712).

Measurements and results

Infants with CF and healthy controls showed similar numbers of swabs positive for virus (mean 42% vs 44%; OR 0.91, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.26, p=0.6). Virus-positive swabs were less often accompanied by respiratory symptoms in infants with CF (17% vs 23%; OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.43 to 0.95, p=0.026). This finding was pronounced for symptomatic human rhinovirus detection (7% vs 11%; OR 0.52, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.9, p=0.02).

Conclusions

Viral detection is not more frequent in infants with CF and respiratory symptoms during viral detection occur even less often than in healthy controls. It is likely an interplay of different factors such as local epithelial properties and immunological mechanisms that contribute to our findings.

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