Parker CM, Cooper MN Prednisolone Versus Dexamethasone for Croup: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics. 2019 Sep;144(3). pii: peds.2018-3772. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-3772. Epub 2019 Aug 15. (Original study)

OBJECTIVES: The use of either prednisolone or low-dose dexamethasone in the treatment of childhood croup lacks a rigorous evidence base despite widespread use. In this study, we compare dexamethasone at 0.6 mg/kg with both low-dose dexamethasone at 0.15 mg/kg and prednisolone at 1 mg/kg.

METHODS: Prospective, double-blind, noninferiority randomized controlled trial based in 1 tertiary pediatric emergency department and 1 urban district emergency department in Perth, Western Australia. Inclusions were age >6 months, maximum weight 20 kg, contactable by telephone, and English-speaking caregivers. Exclusion criteria were known prednisolone or dexamethasone allergy, immunosuppressive disease or treatment, steroid therapy or enrollment in the study within the previous 14 days, and a high clinical suspicion of an alternative diagnosis. A total of 1252 participants were enrolled and randomly assigned to receive dexamethasone (0.6 mg/kg; n = 410), low-dose dexamethasone (0.15 mg/kg; n = 410), or prednisolone (1 mg/kg; n = 411). Primary outcome measures included Westley Croup Score 1-hour after treatment and unscheduled medical re-attendance during the 7 days after treatment.

RESULTS: Mean Westley Croup Score at baseline was 1.4 for dexamethasone, 1.5 for low-dose dexamethasone, and 1.5 for prednisolone. Adjusted difference in scores at 1 hour, compared with dexamethasone, was 0.03 (95% confidence interval -0.09 to 0.15) for low-dose dexamethasone and 0.05 (95% confidence interval -0.07 to 0.17) for prednisolone. Re-attendance rates were 17.8% for dexamethasone, 19.5% for low-dose dexamethasone, and 21.7% for prednisolone (not significant [P = .59 and .19]).

CONCLUSIONS: Noninferiority was demonstrated for both low-dose dexamethasone and prednisolone. The type of oral steroid seems to have no clinically significant impact on efficacy, both acutely and during the week after treatment.

Related DynaMed Topics

Discipline Area Score
Pediatric Hospital Medicine 6 / 7
Pediatrics (General) 6 / 7
Pediatric Emergency Medicine 6 / 7
Respirology/Pulmonology 6 / 7
Emergency Medicine 5 / 7
Comments from MORE raters

Emergency Medicine rater

This randomized trial showed no difference in re-attendance rates, which is great, but the primary outcome of 1-hour change is strange since glucocorticoids take 6-8 hours to take effect.

Pediatric Hospital Medicine rater

This article is useful for me because it supports the use of low dose of dexametasone as treatment of croup with the same efficacy that high dose or prednisolone.

Pediatric Hospital Medicine rater

These are data confirming the current knowledge of equal effects of high, low dose dexamethasone and prednisolone for croup. The data were collected from 2009-2012 and published now? It's unlikely to affect outcome, though.

Respirology/Pulmonology rater

Oral corticosteroids are a key treatment for children with croup. There has been a debate as to whether dexamethasone is a more effective treatment. This is an important study that demonstrates both low-dose dexamethasone and prednisolone appear equally effective. The type of oral steroid seems to have no clinically significant impact on efficacy.
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