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Steroids fail in child meningitis

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

Records of 2,780 children with bacterial meningitis admitted to 27 hospitals were analysed – 10% received corticosteroids.

Mortality rates were 6% among children given corticosteroids versus 4% for those not given them.

Time to discharge did not differ significantly.

‘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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