There is a strong association between cystic fibrosis and malnutrition, mainly because of the higher energy needs combined with lower intake. There is also a well-established correlation between good nutritional status and better lung function. To date, however, there are no studies examining nutritional status in childhood and adult lung function. To respond to this need, this innovative study explored the long-term correlations between nutritional status in childhood and lung function in adulthood for the same patient population.
A retrospective patient file study was conducted to identify putative correlations between nutritional status in childhood and lung function in adulthood. The medical archives at Sheba Medical Center were examined for a period of 31 years between 1986 and 2017 for age, gender, mutations, pancreatic sufficiency or insufficiency (PI/PS), sputum cultures, cystic fibrosis related diabetes, body mass index (BMI) at the age of 10, and FEV1 at 20 and 30 in patients who underwent or did not undergo lung transplantation.
The database was composed of the records of sixty-five patients, thirteen of whom underwent lung transplantation. The correlations (R²) between BMI at age of 10 years and FEV1 at the age of 20 and 30 years were 0.35 and 0.28, respectively, p < 0.001. A BMI of lower than − 0.75 at the age of 10 emerged as a risk factor for lung transplantation (OR 3.42 p = 0.023) and had a negative predictive value of 90%. Kaplan–Meier survival curve showed significant lower lung transplantation rate in the group of BMI z score higher than − 0.75 at the age of 10 years. Logistic regression found nutritional at the age of 10 years as a dominant risk factor for lung transplantation.
This study reports a clear, significant and important correlation for the first time between nutritional status in childhood and lung function for the same patients at adulthood. Hence, nutritional status sets a clear trajectory and should be treated aggressively. The findings emphasize the importance of new-born screening and early implementation of nutritional guidelines for cystic fibrosis patients.