There has been ongoing controversy regarding how to best treat pre-school children who are admitted to hospital with severe wheezing. Children with viral-induced wheeze have been treated with steroids, as well as children with asthma, in the past.
The new study, due to be published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved 700 children aged between 10 months and five years, all of whom were in hospital due to a severe episode of wheezing. Half were given a five-day course of steroid tablets and the other half a placebo.
The researchers found that the children who received the steroid pills needed to stay in hospital just as long, needed the same amount of treatment, and had as many symptoms, as the children who received placebo.
Dr Mike Thomas, chief medical advisor for Asthma UK, which funded the study, said: ‘This study is well done and the findings are robust.
‘It is important that we stop relying on a one-solution-fits-all which means that these young children are taking steroids unnecessarily, and to search for more effective treatments for these children,’ he said.