Association Between Corticosteroids and Infection, Sepsis, and Infectious Death in Pediatric Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): Results From the Canadian Infections in AML Research Group
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BACKGROUND: Infection continues to be a major problem for children with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Objectives were to identify factors associated with infection, sepsis, and infectious deaths in children with newly diagnosed AML. METHODS: We conducted a retrospective, population-based cohort study that included children ≤ 18 years of age with de novo, non-M3 AML diagnosed between January 1995 and December 2004, treated at 15 Canadian centers. Patients were monitored for infection from initiation of AML treatment until recovery from the last cycle of chemotherapy, conditioning for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, relapse, persistent disease, or death (whichever occurred first). Consistent trained research associates abstracted all information from each site. RESULTS: 341 patients were included. Median age was 7.1 years (interquartile range [IQR], 2.0-13.5) and 29 (8.5%) had Down syndrome. In sum, 26 (7.6%) experienced death as a first event. There were 1277 courses of chemotherapy administered in which sterile site microbiologically documented infection occurred in 313 courses (24.5%). Sepsis and infectious death occurred in 97 (7.6%) and 16 (1.3%) courses, respectively. The median days of corticosteroid administration was 2 per course (IQR, 0-6). In multiple regression analysis, duration of corticosteroid exposure was significantly associated with more microbiologically documented sterile site infection, bacteremia, fungal infection, and sepsis. The only factor significantly associated with infectious death was days of corticosteroid exposure (odds ratio, 1.05; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-1.08; P = .001). CONCLUSIONS: In pediatric AML, infection, sepsis, and infectious death were associated with duration of corticosteroid exposure. Corticosteroids should be avoided when possible for this population.
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