Background: Although the burden of bronchiectasis is recognized globally, pediatric data are limited, particularly on trends over the years. Also, no published data exists regarding whether vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency and human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection, both found to be related to severe bronchiectasis in First Nations adults, also are important in children with bronchiectasis.
Research Question: Among children with bronchiectasis, (1) have the clinical and BAL profiles changed between two 5-year periods (period 1, 2007-2011; period 2, 2012-2016) and (b) are vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency, HTLV-1 infection, or both associated with radiologic severity of bronchiectasis?
Study Design and Methods: We analyzed the data from children with bronchiectasis prospectively enrolled at Royal Darwin Hospital, Australia, at the first diagnosis; that is, no child was included in both periods. Data collected include demographics, BAL, routine investigation bloods, and high-resolution CT scan of the chest evaluated using the Bhalla and modified Bhalla scores.
Results: The median age of the 299 children was 2.2 years (interquartile range, 1.5-3.7 years). One hundred sixty-eight (56%) were male and most were First Nations (92%). Overall, bronchiectasis was high over time, particularly among First Nations children. In the later period, numbers of non-First Nations children more than tripled, but did not reach statistical significance. In period 2 compared with period 1, fewer First Nations children demonstrated chronic cough (period 1, 61%; period 2, 47%; P =.03), and were younger, First Nations children were less likely to have received azithromycin (period 1, 42%; period 2, 21%; P <.001), and the BAL fluid of First Nations children showed lower Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis infection. HTLV-1 infection was not detected, and vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency did not correlate with severity of bronchiectasis.
Interpretation: Bronchiectasis remains high particularly among First Nations children. Important changes in their profiles that arguably reflect improvements were present, but overall, the profiles remained similar. Although vitamin D deficiency was uncommon, its role in children with bronchiectasis requires further evaluation. HTLV-1 infection was nonexistent and is unlikely to play any role in First Nations children with bronchiectasis.