How fast does oral dexamethasone work in mild to moderately severe croup? A randomized double-blinded clinical trial

Authors


  • Milana Dobrovoljac, MD, Fellow; Gary C Geelhoed, MB BS, FRACP, FACEM, MD, Director.

Clinical Professor Gary C Geelhoed, Emergency Department, Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Roberts Road, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia. Email: gary.geelhoed@health.wa.gov.au

Abstract

Objective: For children with croup controversy remains over dosage and time to onset of action of oral steroids. The Cochrane Collaboration and other reviews have suggested 0.6 mg/kg dexamethasone be used (despite some evidence that 0.15 mg/kg is effective) with no expectation of benefit before 4–6 h. This randomized double-blinded clinical trial examines whether 0.15 mg/kg dexamethasone works by 30 min.

Methods: Children with croup aged above 6 months presenting to a tertiary paediatric ED with a Westley croup score of mild to moderate range (scores 1–6 out of 17) were randomized to receive either 0.15 mg/kg dexamethasone or oral placebo solution. Vital signs and croup score were recorded at study entry and every 10 min up to 1 h after administration of the study drug. The main outcome measure was croup score at 30 min.

Results: Each group contained 35 children. Baseline characteristics were similar, except for respiratory rate, which was higher in the placebo group. There was a growing trend to a lower croup score in the dexamethasone group, evident from 10 min and statistically significant from 30 min.

Conclusion: For children with croup an oral dose of 0.15 mg/kg dexamethasone offers benefit by 30 min, much earlier than the 4 h suggested by the Cochrane Collaboration. This result might encourage doctors to treat more children with all severities of croup being less worried about potential side-effects and delayed benefit.

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