BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

Cystic fibrosis (CF) screen–positive infants with an inconclusive diagnosis (CFSPID) are infants in whom sweat testing and genetic analysis does not resolve a CF diagnosis. Lack of knowledge about the health outcome of these children who require clinical follow-up challenges effective consultation. Early predictive biomarkers to delineate the CF risk would allow a more targeted approach to these children.

METHODS

Prospective, longitudinal, multicenter, Canada-wide cohort study of CF positive–screened newborns with 1 to 2 cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator gene variants, of which at least 1 is not known to be CF-causing and/or a sweat chloride between 30 and 59 mmol/L. These were monitored for conversion to a CF diagnosis, pulmonary, and nutritional outcomes.

RESULTS

The mean observation period was 7.7 (95% confidence interval 7.1 to 8.4) years. A CF diagnosis was established for 24 of the 115 children with CFSPID (21%) either because of reinterpretation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator genotype or because of increase in sweat chloride concentration ≥60 mmol/L. An initial sweat chloride of ≥40 mmol/l predicted conversion to CF on the basis of sweat testing. The 91 remaining children with CFSPID were pancreatic sufficient and showed normal growth until school age. Pulmonary function as well as lung clearance index in a subgroup of children with CFSPID were similar to that of healthy controls.

CONCLUSIONS

Children with CFSPID have good nutritional and pulmonary outcomes at school age, but rates of reclassifying the diagnosis are high. The initial sweat chloride test can be used as a biomarker to predict the risk for CF in CFSPID.

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