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27 years of croup: an update highlighting the effectiveness of 0.15 mg/kg of dexamethasone.

OBJECTIVE: To update an earlier observational study (1980-1995) documenting dramatic improvements in the management of croup with the mandatory use of a single oral dose of dexamethasone and to ascertain whether a reduction from a dose of 0.6 to 0.15 mg/kg in 1995 maintained these improved outcomes over the next 11 years.

METHODS: We evaluated retrospectively the experience of children with croup in Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, the only tertiary paediatric hospital in Western Australia, over the subsequent 11 year period from 1996 to 2006 inclusive. Data were updated from ED, general hospital and the intensive care unit records to show the numbers of children presenting to the hospital, admitted, transferred to intensive care and intubated. We also recorded the length of hospital stay and representation rate of all cases within 7 days.

RESULTS: The dramatic improvements in outcomes for croup, including reduced admission rates, length of stay, transfers to the intensive care unit, intensive care unit days and number of intubations as reported in our earlier paper, were maintained using 0.15 mg/kg dexamethasone. Admission rates for croup have fallen from 30% in the early 1990s to less than 15% in recent years, whereas the representation rate has risen slightly.

CONCLUSION: The improved outcomes for children with croup presenting to our paediatric ED have been maintained with a reduced, single oral dose of 0.15 mg/kg of dexamethasone.

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