Objective: To determine the effectiveness of nebulized budesonide in the treatment of acute bronchiolitis and in the prevention of postbronchiolitic wheezing.
Study design: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was performed.
Patients: Forty infants with bronchiolitis (83% RSV), mean age 13.5 weeks (range 4 to 41 weeks), were admitted to the Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital, Brighton, UK.
Methods: Twenty-one infants received nebulized budesonide 1 mg every 12 hours for 5 days, then 500 micrograms every 12 hours continuing to a total of 6 weeks. Nineteen received nebulized placebo (0.9% saline) for 6 weeks. A clinical scoring system was used to rate acute symptoms, and diary cards were used to assess persistent respiratory symptoms over a 6-month follow-up period.
Results: No significant differences were found between the budesonide and placebo groups in change in clinical score 48 hours after trial entry, mean oxygen requirements, or length of hospital stay during the acute illness. At 6-month follow-up, the two groups did not differ significantly in prevalence of wheeze, respiratory symptom scores, or proportion requiring bronchodilators or steroids.
Conclusion: This study did not demonstrate that a 6-week course of nebulized budesonide reduced the symptoms of acute bronchiolitis or prevented postbronchiolitic wheezing.