Quantifying the Risk of Serious Infections in Pediatric Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

JF Ludvigsson et al. J Pediatr 2021; 238: 66-73. Open Access PDF Serious Infections in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease 2002-2017—A Nationwide Cohort Study

This study utilized the Swedish nationwide health registry (2002-2017; n = 5767 with IBD) and controls from the general population (n= 58,418). One reason for this study is the increased frequency and changing patterns of immunosuppressive medications that are being used in pediatric IBD. Key findings:

  • 672 serious infections (38.6/1000 person-years) occurred among the children with IBD compared with 778 serious infections in the control group (4.0/1000 person years; adjusted HR 9.46 ). HRs were increased for children with ulcerative colitis 8.48, Crohn’s disease 9.30, and IBD unclassified 12.1
  • Particularly high HRs were also seen in the first year of diagnosis with HR of 12.1 and n children with IBD undergoing surgery, HR 17.1. This 17-fold risk translates to an average of 6 per 100 children having a serious infection among those with operations.
  • 340 of the 672 serious infections were gastrointestinal, including 34 due to Clostridium difficile
  • 20 opportunistic infections were identified during 19,000 person-years

Potential risk factors for infection, besides medications, include malnutrition, chronic inflammation, impaired response to vaccination, and dysregulation of immune responses. A limitation of this study is ascertainment bias as families/patients with underlying disease may be more likely to seek medical attention for otherwise self-limited infections.

My take: This report confirms and quantitates daily clinical practice: children with IBD are more frequently hospitalized due to infections.

Related blog post: Infection or Flareup in IBD: GI PCR Panel Helps

Stillbirths associated with COVID-19: Stillbirths increased from 5.6 per 1,000 baseline to 8 per 1,000 if COVID-19 anytime during pregnancy and to 22.6 per 1,000 if COVID-19 infection began within 28 days of birth in a study of more than 130,000 Scottish births (12/1/20-10/21/21).
Reference: Stock, S.J., Carruthers, J., Calvert, C. et al. SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 vaccination rates in pregnant women in ScotlandNat Med (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01666-2

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