Background: To investigate if high dose inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate started early after upper respiratory tract infection (URTI) could reduce recurrent wheezing in infants.
Methods: Twenty-six ambulatory infants, 7-12 months of age, with recurrent wheezing during upper respiratory tract infection participated. All experienced at least three wheezing attacks. Those with underlying lung or systemic disease were excluded. Infants were divided into two groups in an open unblinded manner, until 13 patients had been recruited for each group. The groups were similar in risk factors for recurrent wheezing. Four treatment periods of 5 days were planned for group 1. The dose regimen was nebulized beclomethasone 400 mg by mask tid for 5 days. Treatment was started at the very first sign of URTI prior to any sign of wheezing. Group 2 did not receive any preventive treatment and constituted the control group. Symptoms scores were recorded. The number of emergency room visits, hospital admissions and short courses with oral steroids was also noted.
Results: Twelve infants completed 48 treatment periods. Five visited the emergency room, only one during beclomethasone therapy. Six received oral steroids, two receiving beclomethasone. No patient was admitted to the hospital. Symptom scores were significantly lower during beclomethasone treatment (p<0.05). No apparent adverse events were reported.
Conclusions: The infant with recurrent wheezing during URTI is a therapeutic challenge. Most of these infants have prodromal symptoms for about 24 hours before wheezing starts. In the present study we observed favorable results, decrease in the number the child wheezed and the number of acute attacks, when high dose inhaled beclomethasone is administered during this critical time.