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Steroids and bronchodilators for acute bronchiolitis in the first two years of life: systematic review and meta-analysis. Open Access

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Author or creator
Hartling, L.
Fernandes, R. M.
Bialy, L.
Milne, A.
Johnson, D.
Plint, A.
Klassen, T. P.
Vandermeer, B.
Additional contributors
Subject/Keyword
infants
systematic review
efficacy
care
chronic lung disease
Type of item
Journal Article (Published)
Language
English
Place
Time
Description
Objective To evaluate and compare the efficacy and safety of bronchodilators and steroids, alone or combined, for the acute management of bronchiolitis in children aged less than 2 years. Design Systematic review and meta-analysis. Data sources Medline, Embase, Central, Scopus, PubMed, LILACS, IranMedEx, conference proceedings, and trial registers. Inclusion criteria Randomised controlled trials of children aged 24 months or less with a first episode of bronchiolitis with wheezing comparing any bronchodilator or steroid, alone or combined, with placebo or another intervention (other bronchodilator, other steroid, standard care). Review methods Two reviewers assessed studies for inclusion and risk of bias and extracted data. Primary outcomes were selected by clinicians a priori based on clinical relevance: rate of admission for outpatients (day 1 and up to day 7) and length of stay for inpatients. Direct meta-analyses were carried out using random effects models. A mixed treatment comparison using a Bayesian network model was used to compare all interventions simultaneously. Results 48 trials (4897 patients, 13 comparisons) were included. Risk of bias was low in 17% (n=8), unclear in 52% (n=25), and high in 31% (n=15). Only adrenaline (epinephrine) reduced admissions on day 1 (compared with placebo: pooled risk ratio 0.67, 95% confidence interval 0.50 to 0.89; number needed to treat 15, 95% confidence interval 10 to 45 for a baseline risk of 20%; 920 patients). Unadjusted results from a single large trial with low risk of bias showed that combined dexamethasone and adrenaline reduced admissions on day 7 (risk ratio 0.65, 0.44 to 0.95; number needed to treat 11, 7 to 76 for a baseline risk of 26%; 400 patients). A mixed treatment comparison supported adrenaline alone or combined with steroids as the preferred treatments for outpatients (probability of being the best treatment based on admissions at day 1 were 45% and 39%, respectively). The incidence of reported harms did not differ. None of the interventions examined showed clear efficacy for length of stay among inpatients. Conclusions Evidence shows the effectiveness and superiority of adrenaline for outcomes of most clinical relevance among outpatients with acute bronchiolitis, and evidence from a single precise trial for combined adrenaline and dexamethasone.
Date created
2011
DOI
doi:10.7939/R3QF8JM50
License information
Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 3.0 Unported
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Citation for previous publication
Hartling, L., Fernandes, R. M., Bialy, L., Milne, A., Johnson, D., Plint, A., . . . Vandermeer, B. (2011). Steroids and bronchodilators for acute bronchiolitis in the first two years of life: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 342, d1714. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d1714.
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