Increased non-typhoidal Salmonella hospitalizations in transfusion-naïve thalassemia children: a nationwide population-based cohort study


Fang-Ju LinJiunn-Ming SheenYao-Hsu YangKuang-Che Kuo 


Introduction: Although non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) infection usually causes self-limited enterocolitis, several risk factors have been found to predispose individuals to more severe NTS infections. However, few studies have discussed the association between NTS infection and pediatric thalassemia populations.

Material and methods: A nationwide population-based retrospective cohort study was conducted using medical records of the selected children from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database. Immunocompromised individuals or patients with a history of transfusion or splenectomy were excluded. One thalassemia patient was matched with four non-thalassemia patients based on their year of birth, sex, and urbanization level.

Results: In this cohort, 912 patients with thalassemia and 3648 comparison cohort were analyzed. The mean age of NTS hospitalization was 2.0 ± 1.4 in thalassemia cohort and 2.6 ± 2.4 in non-thalassemia cohort. Transfusion-naïve thalassemia children were proved to have a higher rate of NTS hospitalization (6.90 vs 4.11 per 1000 person-year; p = 0.0004) than the non-thalassemia cohort, with an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 1.68 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.26-2.24).

Conclusion: Our research shows that transfusion-naïve thalassemia is associated with an increased risk of NTS hospitalization. Further prospective study comparing the incidence and severity of NTS infection among children with and without thalassemia is needed.

Impact: Pediatric transfusion-naïve thalassemia patients have an 1.68-fold increased risk for hospitalization due to non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) infection. This is the first nationwide population-based cohort study based on an extremely large database that shows pediatric transfusion-naïve thalassemia patients have an increased risk for NTS hospitalizations. Besides the previously known risk factors such as extremes of age, sickle cell disease, or immunosuppressing conditions, clinicians must also take thalassemia as a possible risk factor for more severe NTS disease.

Click here to read the article, published in Pediatric Research.