Children suffering from acute bronchiolitis are routinely treated with steroids, especially in North America, although there is no evidence to show that they work.
A new study has confirmed this finding after the steroid dexamethasone was given to a group of children admitted to hospital with bronchiolitis. The drug was no better than the placebo used on another group of patients.
Bronchiolitis is an infection of the lower breathing tract that occurs in infants under 18 months of age. Most are treated as out patients and without the use of drugs.
Doctors from the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago proved the ineffectiveness of the steroid, and also demonstrated that earlier studies, which had concluded that the drugs were a good treatment, had been flawed or based on too small a study group.
They were also concerned about the longer term effects of giving steroids, especially to the very young.
See WDDTY vol 7, no 2 for more information on steroids.
!AThe Lancet, 1996; 348: 292-95.