COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW
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Inhaled versus systemic corticosteroids for acute asthma in children. A systematic review.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects of inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) against systemic corticosteroids (SC) in children consulting in emergency department (ED) or equivalent for asthma exacerbation.

METHODS: Electronic search in MEDLINE, CENTRAL, CINAHL, and LILACS databases and other sources. Study selection criteria: children 2-18 years of age, consulting in ED or equivalent for asthma exacerbation, comparison between ICS and SC, randomized controlled trials.

PRIMARY OUTCOMES: hospital admission rate, unscheduled visits for asthma symptoms, need of additional course of SC.

SECONDARY OUTCOMES: improvement of lung function, length of stay in ED, clinical scores, and adverse effects.

RESULTS: Eight studies met inclusion criteria (N = 797), published between 1995 and 2006. All used prednisolone as SC and budesonide, fluticasone, dexamethasone, and flunisolide were administered as ICS. No significant difference between ICS versus SC was found in terms of hospital admission (RR: 1.02; 95% CI: 0.41-2.57), unscheduled visits for asthma symptoms (RR: 9.55; 95% CI: 0.53-170.52) nor for need of additional course of SC (RR: 1.45; 95% CI: 0.28-7.62). The change in % of predicted FEV1 at fourth hour was significantly higher for SC group, but there was no significant difference between both groups after this time. There was insufficient data to perform meta-analysis of length of stay during first consult in ED and of symptom scores. Vomiting was similar among both groups.

CONCLUSIONS: There is no evidence of a difference between ICS and SC in terms of hospital admission rates, unscheduled visits for asthma symptoms and need of additional course of SC in children consulting for asthma exacerbations.

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