Of eight recommended prevention strategies for repeat severe pneumonia in children with neurologic impairment, only one – dental care – was found to be effective, according to findings published in Pediatrics.

Five of the remaining seven strategies – gastrostomy tube placement, chest physiotherapy, outpatient antibiotics before hospitalization, and clinic visit before and after index hospitalization – were associated with increased recurrence, Jody L. Lin, MD, of the department of pediatrics at Stanford (Calif.) University, and colleagues reported. Oral secretion management and gastric acid suppression were associated with increased risk, but to a lesser extent.

The researchers examined the outcomes of the prevention strategies because, although children with neurologic impairment are more susceptible to community-acquired pneumonia, current guidelines are based mostly on expert opinion. The study included 3,632 children aged 21 years or younger with neurologic impairment and at least one hospitalization for pneumonia, who were enrolled in the California Children’s Services program between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2014.

Propensity-score matching based on factors such as age, sex, household income, as well as characteristics of index hospitalization, showed decreased odds of recurrence only with receipt of dental care (adjusted odds ratio, 0.64; 95% confidence interval, 0.49-0.85), whereas increased odds were seen with other recommended prevention strategies, such as chest physiotherapy (aOR, 2.03; 95% CI, 1.29-3.20), receipt of antibiotics before hospitalization (aOR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.06-1.92), and clinic visit before (aOR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.11-1.52) and after index hospitalization (aOR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.35-2.20).

The greatest increased odds, however, were seen with new gastrostomy tube placement (aOR, 2.15; 95% CI, 1.63-2.85).

The investigators noted that the biggest limitation of this study was the potential for residual confounding by indication even after adjustment, whereby certain interventions were provided to patients deemed more clinically severe to begin with. A strength of the study is its longitudinal nature.

“Our results suggest that more attention should be paid to dental health for children with [neurologic impairment],” the researchers wrote, although they noted that dental care “remains the most common unmet health care need” for children with special health care needs.

The findings also “support a clinical trial of dental care for prevention of severe pneumonia in children with [neurologic impairment] and do not support the widespread use of gastrostomy tubes for that purpose,” they added.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Lin received support from the NIH and the Clinical Excellence Research Center. The authors reported that they had no conflicts of interest.

cpalmer@mdedge.com

SOURCE: Lin JL et al. Pediatrics. 2019 Sep 19. doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-0543.