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Corticosteroids and paediatric bacterial meningitis

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Giving corticosteroids to children admitted with bacterial meningitis does not provide any benefit, despite being effective in adults, a large US study has found.

Researchers analysed the records of 2,780 children with bacterial meningitis admitted to 27 hospitals, of which 10% received corticosteroids.

Mortality rates were 6% among children receiving corticosteroids versus 4% among those not receiving them. Additionally, the time to discharge did not differ significantly between the groups.

‘Adults may have different predisposing factors for meningitis or a different inflammatory response, either of which may alter the course of disease compared to children,’ suggest the authors.

Journal of the American Medical Association (2008) 299: 2048-2055

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