Twenty-nine of initially 42 infants with recurrent wheeze (20 male and 9 female) with an age range of 2.1-25.2 months were randomly assigned to receive either 100 micrograms beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) combined with 200 micrograms salbutamol (group BDP-S, n = 9), 200 micrograms salbutamol (group S, n = 8), or placebo (group P, n = 6) 3 times daily for a 6 weeks' treatment period. Six infants had to be treated openly with BDP-S (group O, n = 6) because of deterioration in the disease state. Ten babies were excluded because of incomplete data and poor drug compliance and further 3 because of needed rescue medication. The drugs were inhaled from a metered dose inhaler through a baby-adapted spacer device, the Babyhaler. Control was assessed by symptom diaries, and infant whole-body plethysmography. Values of thoracic gas volume (TGV), airway conductance (Gaw) and specific airway conductance (sGaw) were calculated numerically independent of age and body length in percent predicted and in standard deviation scores using regression equations taken from healthy infants previously evaluated. Functional improvement was considered to have occurred when either TGV, and/or Gaw improved more than 2 SD from baseline. There was a significant improvement in the symptom score (p < 0.05), particularly concerning cough, in addition to a significant decrease in pulmonary hyperinflation (TGV: p < 0.05) and improvement of Gaw (p < 0.01) and sGaw (p < 0.01) in the BDP-S group when compared to the P group. No significant differences were found between the BDP-S and S group and/or between the S and P groups.
Conclusions: In wheezy infants BDP improves clinical status and lung function, when given in combination with salbutamol by a baby-adapted spacer device.