Single-Dose Dexamethasone Is Not Inferior to 2 Doses in Mild to Moderate Pediatric Asthma Exacerbations in the Emergency Department

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2022 Jun 1;38(6):e1285-e1290. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002727. Epub 2022 May 4.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare the efficacy of a single dose of dexamethasone to 2 doses of dexamethasone in treating mild to moderate asthma exacerbations in pediatric patients. We anticipated that there would not be a difference in the rate of return visits to the emergency department (ED), urgent care, or primary care physician for continued asthma symptoms.

Methods: This was a prospective, randomized, single-center, unblinded, parallel-group randomized clinical trial of patients 2 to 20 years old presenting to a pediatric ED with mild to moderate asthma exacerbations. The patients were randomized to receive 1 or 2 doses of dexamethasone (0.6 mg/kg per dose, maximum of 16 mg). Telephone follow-up interviews were performed on the sixth day after ED visit. The primary outcome measures were return visits to either primary care physician or ED for continued asthma symptoms. Secondary outcomes were days of symptoms, missed school days, and adverse effects.

Results: Of the 318 children initially enrolled, 308 patients met the enrollment criteria. These patients were randomized into 2 groups. There were 116 patients in group 1 and 116 patients in group 2. There was no significant difference between groups regarding return visits (group 1, 12.1%; group 2, 10.3%; odds ratio [OR], 0.892 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.377-2.110]), days to symptom resolution (group 1, 2.4; group 2, 2.5; OR, 0.974 [95% 95% CI, 0.838-1.132]), missed school days (group 1, 47%; group 2, 51%; OR, 1.114 [95% CI, 0.613-2.023]), or vomiting (group 1, 8.6%; group 2, 3.4%; OR, 2.424 [95% CI, 0.637-9.228]).

Conclusions: In this single-center, unblinded randomized trial of children and adolescents with mild to moderate acute exacerbations of asthma, there was no difference in the rate of return visits for continued or worsened symptoms between patients randomized to 1 or 2 doses of dexamethasone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma* / drug therapy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dexamethasone / adverse effects
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Dexamethasone