Effectiveness of Oral Dexamethasone in Acute Bronchiolitis

This study assesses the effectiveness and safety of the administration of oral dexamethasone for acute moderate to severe bronchiolitis in children seen in the ED, both with regard to the need for hospitalization (primary outcome), and severity and duration of disease (secondary outcomes). The study hypothesized that dexamethasone would be more effective than placebo in preventing hospital admission of infants with bronchiolitis.

This study was was conducted at selected sites within PECARN for a three-year period (during Bronchiolitis seasons). The study was co-funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMSC) Program and the Research Program. Data collection began in January, 2004. The study concluded in Spring, 2006. We successfully enrolled 600 patients in this study, and we determined that there was no reduction in hospitalizations or improvement in respiratory scores associated with the administration of oral dexamethasone. Findings were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on July 26th, 2007. The public use data set can be requested here.