University of Calgary

Bronchiolitis relief

May 19, 2009

Bronchiolitis relief for babies

Dr. David Johnson.

Dr. David Johnson examines one of the children in the study who received the combined drug treatment.
Canadian pediatricians have found a better way to help babies suffering from a lung infection called bronchiolitis and were able to reduce the number admitted to hospital by more than one-third.

A national study, led by Dr. Amy Plint at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and University of Ottawa, Dr. Terry Klassen of the University of Alberta, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Dr. David Johnson at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and University of Calgary, and Dr. Hema Patel at Montreal Children’s Hospital and McGill University showed that combining two common drugs cut hospital admissions by 35 percent.

Results of the study, which involved 800 babies in emergency departments in eight pediatric hospitals across Canada were published May 14, 2009 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“Thirty five percent is a substantial drop. These findings are truly significant to the health-care system and to families of young children around the world,” said Plint who was the lead study investigator and author. Plint is a pediatric emergency physician at CHEO and associate professor in Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at the University of Ottawa.  “Bronchiolitis is a very common illness. The children in the study who received the combined drug treatment got better sooner, went home faster, and were less likely to need hospital care.”

Dr. David Johnson is a pediatric emergency physician at Alberta Children’s Hospital. “Our findings have potential implications for treating not just children with bronchiolitis, but also many other young children with multiple wheezy episodes. One in three children have at least one wheezy episode before their third birthday. We anticipate insights from our study will lead to follow-up studies that may ultimately improve how we care for all these children,” said Johnson, a professor of pediatrics at the Faculty of Medicine and member of the Institute for Child and Maternal Health.

Bronchiolitis, an inflammation of tiny airways in the lungs called bronchioles, usually affects children under the age of two, and especially those aged three to six months. Usually caused by viral infections, it makes the baby cough, wheeze and have difficulty breathing. In Canada, an estimated 35 in 1,000 babies are hospitalized with the condition each year, with rates nearly doubling in the last 10 to 15 years. In 1993 the cost of bronchiolitis in Canada was conservatively estimated at $23 million.

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