Corticosteroid therapy and need for hospital care in wheezing preschool children

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2000 Nov;56(8):591-6. doi: 10.1007/s002280000199.


Objectives: To study the frequency of corticosteroid therapy and the use of inpatient care for preschool children with wheezing in two regions in Finland.

Methods: The Finnish Social Insurance Institution database on refundable asthma medication indicated that 1.18% of children in Tampere and 2.37% in Turku used inhaled corticosteroids regularly. To clarify the difference, hospital records of 800 randomly chosen 0.5-6.9-year-old children who had been treated for wheezing in Tampere or Turku University Hospital during 1995-1996 were retrospectively analysed.

Results: The incidences of wheezing-related emergency room (ER) index visits were 11.0 visits/year/1000 children both in Tampere and Turku. Oral corticosteroids were given to 2.5% versus 24.2% of children in ER and 10.6% versus 89.7% in hospital ward in Tampere and Turku, respectively. Hospitalisation rates were 44.8% in Tampere and 36.8% in Turku (95% confidence interval for the difference 1.2-14.8%). In both regions, children with prior inhaled corticosteroid therapy needed less inpatient care. Mean duration of hospitalisation was 3.4 days in Tampere and only 1.4 days in Turku. Recurrent visits in 6 months were more common in Tampere.

Conclusions: There were marked regional differences in the management of preschool children with wheezing. On a population level, frequent use of corticosteroid therapy was associated with reduced hospital admissions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / economics
  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / economics
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / complications*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents