Ten preterm infants with recurrent respiratory symptoms (median gestational age 30 weeks) were entered into a non-randomised placebo controlled trial of bronchodilator treatment at 12.5 months of age. The infants had coughed or wheezed, or both, on at least four days a week for the past month. The infants received either placebo or 500 micrograms terbutaline from an inhaler using a coffee cup as a spacer device. Each treatment was maintained for two weeks, first placebo then active drug. The symptom score was reduced by 65% during the active treatment period compared with the placebo period and this was associated with a 32% improvement in lung function, reflected in an increase in functional residual capacity. We conclude that inhaled bronchodilator treatment given with a simple spacer device is useful for preterm infants with recurrent respiratory symptoms in the first two years of life.
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