Background and objectives: Bronchiolitis, the most common reason for hospitalization in children younger than 1 year in the United States, has no proven therapies effective beyond supportive care. We aimed to investigate the effect of nebulized 3% hypertonic saline (HS) compared with nebulized normal saline (NS) on length of stay (LOS) in infants hospitalized with bronchiolitis.
Methods: We conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blind, controlled trial in an urban tertiary care children's hospital in 227 infants younger than 12 months old admitted with a diagnosis of bronchiolitis (190 completed the study); 113 infants were randomized to HS (93 completed the study), and 114 to NS (97 completed the study). Subjects received 4 mL nebulized 3% HS or 4 mL 0.9% NS every 4 hours from enrollment until hospital discharge. The primary outcome was median LOS. Secondary outcomes were total adverse events, subdivided as clinical worsening and readmissions.
Results: Patient characteristics were similar in groups. In intention-to-treat analysis, median LOS (interquartile range) of HS and NS groups was 2.1 (1.2-4.6) vs 2.1 days (1.2-3.8), respectively, P = .73. We confirmed findings with per-protocol analysis, HS and NS groups with 2.0 (1.3-3.3) and 2.0 days (1.2-3.0), respectively, P = .96. Seven-day readmission rate for HS and NS groups were 4.3% and 3.1%, respectively, P = .77. Clinical worsening events were similar between groups (9% vs 8%, P = .97).
Conclusions: Among infants admitted to the hospital with bronchiolitis, treatment with nebulized 3% HS compared with NS had no difference in LOS or 7-day readmission rates.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01488448.
Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.