Alansari K, Sakran M, Davidson BL, et al. Oral dexamethasone for bronchiolitis: a randomized trial. Pediatrics. 2013 Oct;132(4):e810-e816.
OBJECTIVE: Determine whether dexamethasone treatment added to salbutamol reduces time to readiness for discharge in patients with bronchiolitis and possible asthma.
METHODS: We compared efficacy and safety of dexamethasone, 1 mg/kg, then 0.6 mg/kg for 4 more days, with placebo for acute bronchiolitis in patients with asthma risk, as determined by eczema or a family history of asthma in a first-degree relative. All patients received inhaled salbutamol. Time to readiness for discharge was the primary efficacy outcome.
RESULTS: Two hundred previously healthy infants diagnosed with bronchiolitis, median age 3.5 months, were enrolled. Five placebo recipients needed admission to intensive care unit during infirmary treatment (P = .02). Among 100 dexamethasone recipients, geometric mean time to readiness for discharge was 18.6 hours (95% confidence interval [CI], 14.9 to 23.1 hours); among 90 control patients, 27.1 hours (95% CI, 21.8 to 33.8 hours). The ratio, 0.69 (95% CI, 0.51 to 0.93), revealed a mean 31% shortening of duration to readiness for discharge favoring dexamethasone (P = .015). Twenty-two dexamethasone and 19 control patients were readmitted to the short stay infirmary in the week after discharge (P = .9). No hospitalizations or side effects were reported during 7 days of surveillance.
CONCLUSIONS: Dexamethasone with salbutamol shortened time to readiness for infirmary discharge during bronchiolitis episodes in patients with eczema or a family history of asthma in a first-degree relative. Infirmary and clinic visits in the subsequent week occurred similarly for the 2 groups.