Objective.

To determine the effect of respiratory viral infections on pulmonary function in infants with cystic fibrosis (CF) after the respiratory virus season (October through March).

Methods.

Recruitment was for one respiratory virus season during a 3-year span, 1988 to 1991, with reenrollment allowed; 22 infants <2 years of age with CF (30 patient-seasons) and 27 age-matched controls (28 patient-seasons) participated. Primary outcome variables were preseason and postseason pulmonary function tests and serology for viral antibodies. Twice-weekly telephone calls screened for respiratory symptoms. The presence of respiratory symptoms triggered a home visit and an evaluation for upper or lower (LRTI) respiratory tract infection. A nasopharyngeal sample for viral culture was performed with each visit.

Results.

Controls and CF infants each had a mean of 5.3 acute respiratory illnesses; CF infants were four times more likely to develop an LRTI compared with controls (odds ratio, 4.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.3 and 16.5). Three of 7 (43%) CF infants with respiratory syncytial virus infection (documented by culture) required hospitalization. Controls had no association between respiratory illness and postseason pulmonary function. For CF infants, reduced postseason maximal flow at functional residual capacity (V′maxFRC) was associated with two interactions, ie, respiratory syncytial virus infection and LRTI, and male sex and LRTI; increased gas trapping (FRC) was associated with an interaction between respiratory syncytial virus and LRTI and day care . Postseason pulmonary function tests were obtained a mean of 3.2 months after final LRTI.

Conclusions.

Infants with CF incurring respiratory virus infection are at significant risk for LRTI, for hospitalization, and for deterioration in lung function that persists months after the acute illness.

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