Background Bacterial infections represent a major cause of morbidity and mortality in heart transplant recipients. However, data describing the epidemiology and outcomes of these infections in children are limited. Methods We analyzed the Pediatric Heart Transplant Study database of patients transplanted between 1993 and 2014 to determine the etiologies, risk factors and outcomes of children with bacterial infections post–heart transplantation. Results Of 4,458 primary transplants in the database, there were 4,815 infections that required hospitalization or intravenous therapy, 2,047 (42.51%) of which were bacterial. The risk of bacterial infection was highest in the first month post-transplant, and the bloodstream was the most common site (24.82%). In the early post-transplant period (<30 days post-transplant), coagulase-negative staphylococci were the most common pathogens (16.97%), followed by Enterobacter sp (11.99%) and Pseudomonas sp (11.62%). In the late post-transplant period, community-acquired pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae (6.27%) and Haemophilus influenzae (2.82%) were also commonly identified. Patients’ characteristics independently associated with acquisition of bacterial infection included younger age (p < 0.0001) and ventilator (p < 0.0001) or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (p = 0.03) use at time of transplant. Overall mortality post-bacterial infection was 33.78%, and previous cardiac surgery (p < 0.001) and multiple sites of infection (p = 0.004) were independent predictors of death. Conclusions Bacteria were the most common causes of severe infections in pediatric heart transplant recipients and were associated with high mortality rates. The risk of acquiring a bacterial infection was highest in the first month post-transplant, and a large proportion of the infections were caused by multidrug-resistant pathogens.
- heart transplant