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Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
Date:5/13/2009

Epinephrine, dexamethasone reduces hospitalization risk by 35%, study finds

WEDNESDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- A combination of commonly used medications may ease the symptoms of bronchiolitis -- a virus-triggered condition that causes wheezing in babies.

New research suggests this treatment may reduce the risk of hospitalization by more than one-third, as well as stop wheezing sooner and get babies back to normal feeding sooner than either treatment alone or a placebo.

"Until this point, we've had no good treatment options for bronchiolitis, except for supplemental oxygen and extra fluids. In this study, we looked at two medications that have been used to treat bronchiolitis without great benefit when used separately. But, combining the two resulted in a reduction of hospitalizations," said study author Dr. Amy Plint, a pediatric emergency physician at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, Canada.

Results of the study appear in the May 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Bronchiolitis is a common illness in very young children. About one in three youngsters in Western countries will have at least one episode of wheezing before turning 3, according to information in an editorial in the same issue of the journal. Most of this wheezing, the editorial authors pointed out, isn't the result of asthma. Instead, it is triggered by a virus.

Plint and her colleagues included 800 infants with bronchiolitis who were between the ages of 6 weeks and 12 months. The babies were randomly assigned to one of four groups: The first group was given two treatments of nebulized epinephrine and six oral doses of the corticosteroid dexamethasone for five days; the second received nebulized epinephrine and an oral placebo; the third group received a nebulized placebo and the oral dexamethasone; and the final group was given a nebulized and oral placebo treatment.

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