Background: Palatability is an important factor in medication compliance for children where the acceptability of a liquid medication and its ease of administration will be greatly affected by its taste.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine which, if any of two steroid preparations, oral dexamethasone or oral prednisolone, was more palatable to children requiring steroid treatment for asthma.
Methods: A single-blind taste test of 2 different steroid suspensions, liquid prednisolone (1mg/ml) versus liquid dexamethasone (1mg/ml), was conducted in children aged 5-12 years, presenting to the pediatric emergency department with an exacerbation of asthma requiring steroid treatment. Children received 2.5mls of either prednisolone or dexamethasone and were asked to score their impression of taste on a 10 cm visual analog scale. After cleansing of the palate they were given the other steroid and scored its taste.
Results: Thirty-nine children (54% male) were enrolled in the study. The mean age was 7.1 years (SD=2.0). The median visual analog scale measurement for dexamethasone was 8.2 cm (IQR= 5.2) whilst the median measurement for prednisolone was 5.0 cm (IQR= 7.3), p=0.03. Male children were more likely to prefer dexamethasone than females with a median score of 9.9 cm (IQR=3.8) for males vs. 5.9 cm (IQR=9.3) for females, p=0.005. There was no gender preference for prednisolone.
Conclusions: There was a statistically significant difference between the taste of dexamethasone and prednisolone, with dexamethasone being the preferred steroid among pediatric patients with asthma. Males were much more likely to prefer dexamethasone than females.