Thirty-two infants, aged 1 to 12 months, hospitalized with acute wheezing, were studied. They were randomly divided into four treatment groups of eight patients each. The treatments were intramuscular dexamethasone or placebo (double-blind), and salbutamol (oral and inhaled), or none (open), in all four possible combinations. The study was carried out as a randomized block design with eight blocks of four infants each, matched by age and clinical score. Average daily improvements, as reflected by changes in the clinical score and length of hospital stay, was essentially the same for infants treated with placebo, salbutamol alone, and dexamethasone alone. However, combined salbutamol-dexamethasone treatment resulted in more than twice the rate of improvement of the other treatments. The difference was statistically highly significant (P < .01). Furthermore, the response of this combined treatment was observed within 24 hours; none of the ten infants in whom there was no significant improvement within 48 hours and neither of the two patients who developed respiratory failure received the combined salbutamol-dexamethasone treatment. A potentiating effect of corticosteroids on the β-adrenergic responsiveness is a possible explanation for the advantage of this combined treatment in the management of acute wheezing in infancy.
- Received March 16, 1982.
- Copyright © 1983 by the American Academy of Pediatrics