Original Article|Articles in Press

Polymicrobial infections and antibiotic treatment patterns for cystic fibrosis pulmonary exacerbations

Published:February 25, 2023DOI:


      • Polymicrobial infections common in pediatric pulmonary exacerbations.
      • Most polymicrobial infections treated with antibiotics that cover all bacteria.
      • Prior complete antibiotic coverage predicts subsequent complete coverage.



      No data exist to guide antibiotic selection among people with CF (PwCF) with respiratory cultures positive for multiple CF-related bacteria (polymicrobial infections). This study aimed to describe the number of polymicrobial in-hospital treated pulmonary exacerbations (PEx), to determine the proportion of polymicrobial PEx where antibiotics were prescribed with activity against all bacteria detected (termed complete antibiotic coverage), and to determine clinical and demographic factors associated with complete antibiotic coverage.


      Retrospective cohort study using the CF Foundation Patient Registry-Pediatric Health Information System dataset. Children aged 1–21 years with an in-hospital treated PEx from 2006 to 2019 were eligible for inclusion. Bacterial culture positivity was based on any positive respiratory culture in the 12 months prior to a study PEx.


      A total of 4,923 children contributed 27,669 total PEx of which 20,214 were polymicrobial; of these, 68% of PEx had complete antibiotic coverage. In regression modeling, a prior PEx with complete antibiotic coverage for MRSA was associated with a higher likelihood of having complete antibiotic coverage at a subsequent study PEx (OR (95% CI) 3.48 (2.50, 4.83)).


      The majority of children with CF hospitalized for polymicrobial PEx were prescribed complete antibiotic coverage. Prior PEx treatment with complete antibiotic coverage predicted complete antibiotic coverage at a future PEx for all bacteria studied. Studies are needed comparing outcomes of polymicrobial PEx treated with different antibiotic coverages to optimize PEx antibiotic selection.
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