July 4, 2006

Steroid helpful in early wheezing due to colds

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Oral treatment with the steroid
prednisolone reduces relapses in young children with a first or
second bout of wheezing associated with the common cold
(rhinovirus), a study shows.

Prednisolone does not appear to be effective for early
wheezing associated with another type of respiratory virus
called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to the

"Our results agree with previous studies showing that
corticosteroids do not offer short- or long-term benefits in
patients with RSV infection," note Dr. Tuomas Jartti from Turku
University Hospital, Finland and colleagues in a report in The
Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

The Finnish team compared prednisolone (2 mg/kg per day in
three divided doses for 3 days) with placebo in 78
preschool-age children who were hospitalized with a first or
second episode of wheezing induced by rhinovirus or RSV.
Children with mixed viral infections were excluded from the

Prednisolone treatment significantly decrease relapses
during the subsequent two months in rhinovirus-infected
children and in children with high levels of eosinophils -- a
type of blood cell known to play a role in inflammation.

"Prednisolone decreased blood eosinophils, which was
closely related to the rhinovirus infection," the team reports.
Compared with RSV-infected children, rhinovirus-infected
children were more likely to have atopy (allergy) and had
significantly more blood eosinophils on admission.

In comments to Reuters Health, Jartti said: "We believe
that our study supports the view that systemic corticosteroids
in the dosages used are beneficial in the treatment of first or
second time wheezing associated with rhinovirus infection
and/or (elevated) blood eosinophils."

"Recently," Jartti also mentioned, "rhinovirus-induced
early wheezing has been suggested as a new major risk factor
for recurrent wheezing, and it has even been related to school
age asthma."

SOURCE: The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal June 2006.