BACKGROUND: Adequate nutrition and optimal treatment of bronchopulmonary infections are both of critical importance in maintaining the health of patients with cystic fibrosis. The cystic fibrosis centre in Copenhagen has followed a regimen of very early and aggressive antimicrobial treatment, especially against Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection. An unrestricted diet of low fat and high protein without hyperalimentation was recommended before 1985 which was then changed to a high fat, high calorie intake. METHODS: The overall impact of the treatment regimen was evaluated by a cross sectional analysis of all 223 patients who attended the centre in 1989. Growth and nutritional parameters were combined with lung function parameters and with a retrospective analysis of chronic P aeruginosa infection and its duration. Survival curves for all 313 patients treated at the centre since 1949 were calculated. RESULTS: All the patients with cystic fibrosis had normal height, although the final height was achieved a little later than in healthy controls. Body weight was lower than normal in males above 15 and in females above 10 years of age. The body mass index (BMI), which was approximately 98% of normal in the younger patients, declined to 90% in adult men and to 83% in adult women with cystic fibrosis, and was strongly correlated with lung function parameters. In 1989 the median age of survival of all patients treated in the centre since 1949 was 30 years (32 years in males and 29 years in females). CONCLUSIONS: The overall treatment regimen in the cystic fibrosis centre in Copenhagen is associated with growth and survival rates that are at least equal to those in other cystic fibrosis centres in other countries.
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