Purpose of review: The prevalence of severe asthma in children has risen in the past few decades. The present review explores our current understanding of epidemiology, pathophysiology and treatment of status asthmaticus in children.
Recent findings: The pathophysiology of inflammation and airway hyperactivity continues to be a source of research. Early initiation of inhaled beta-agonists and oral or parenteral steroids remain the standard of care in the treatment of status asthmaticus. Other treatment modalities such as magnesium and intravenous beta-agonists show some benefit. There is a resurgence of interest in the use of methylxanthines. Alternatives to endotracheal intubation show some promise in preventing respiratory failure.
Summary: Asthma remains the third leading cause of hospitalization in children younger than 15 years old. Researchers continue to explore the efficacy of old and new treatment modalities. Future research efforts targeting at-risk populations could dramatically decrease asthma morbidity and mortality.