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J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. 1999 Jan;16(1):51-6.

Swimming and central venous catheter-related infections in the child with cancer.

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  • 1Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, University of Rochester, Children's Hospital at Strong, NY, USA.


Although there have been many studies evaluating risk factors for catheter-related infections in children with cancer, none have examined whether swimming presents such a risk. Families of children with cancer were asked about specific swimming practices and central line care to determine whether there is an association between swimming and infection. Parents completed a self-report questionnaire and medical records were reviewed to document catheter-related intraluminal, tunnel, and exit-site infections. Ninety-one children with a total of 101 tunneled catheters participated in the study. Forty-nine children with a total of 50 catheters were swimmers; 46 children with 51 catheters were nonswimmers (four children had two catheters and swam with one catheter but not the other, therefore, these children were counted twice). There were no statistically significant differences in rates of catheter-related infections between the two groups (0.04/catheter-month in swimmers versus 0.25/in non-swimmers, relative risk; RR = 1.6, p = .16). When the analysis was confined to summertime infections per summertime catheter month, there were no significant differences in the rates of infections per summer month (0.06 for swimmers vs. 0.05 for non-swimmers, RR = 1.4; p = .50). When the analyses were performed to compare frequent swimmers with infrequent/non-swimmers, once again there were no differences found in rates of catheter-related infections between the two groups. These results suggest that swimming does not increase the risk of catheter-related infections in children with tunneled catheters.

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