Since their introduction into clinical use, corticosteroids have been employed as therapeutic agents in virtually every known disease state, ranging from minor dermatologic disorders to major and serious diseases. These agents have undoubtedly altered the clinical picture and prognosis of certain diseases. However, the use of corticosteroids is always potentially associated with a variety of untoward effects, some of which may be life threatening, i.e., decreased resistance to infection, growth retardation, neurological reactions, hypertension, peptic ulcerations, and many others.1 The time honored principle—first do no harm—should always be the guideline of therapy, especially when a definite indication for a particular therapeutic agent has not been established.
In recent years corticosteroids have been employed in the treatment of bronchiolitis on the hypothesis that their anti-inflammatory action would decrease swelling, inflammation, and the consequent respiratory obstruction. The opinions of different investigators on the efficacy of corticosteroids in this disorder have varied greatly; some have regarded their use as ineffective and others as lifesaving. It is the purpose of this report to review the findings from various studies and to outline the current status the use of corticosteroids in this common disorder of infants and children.
Bronchiolitis is a common, acute respiratory syndrome characterized by infection of the bronchioles and respiratory distress of varying degrees due to obstructive emphysema. It is common in the first year of life and is rare in the child over 2 years of age. It frequently occurs in outbreaks. The great majority of cases are due to viruses, especially the respiratory syncitial, influenza B, and parainfluenza viruses, but it may be due to bacteria and other respiratory pathogens.
- Copyright © 1970 by the American Academy of Pediatrics