BACKGROUND The role of inhaled corticosteroids for the treatment of wheeze in infancy remains unclear.
AIM To investigate the effect of inhaled fluticasone on symptoms in a group of wheezy infants who had a high risk of progressing to childhood asthma.
METHODS A total of 52 infants, under 1 year of age, with a history of wheeze or cough and a history (personal or first degree relative) of atopy were prescribed either 150 μg fluticasone twice daily (group F) or placebo (group P), via metered dose inhaler, for 12 weeks following a two week run in period. Symptoms were scored in a parent held diary and the mean daily symptom score (MDS) and symptom free days (SFD) calculated for each two week period.
RESULTS Thirty seven infants completed the study. Both MDS and SFD improved significantly between the run in and final two week period in group F, but not group P, with a mean difference in change (95% CI) between groups of 1.12 (0.05 to 2.18) for MDS and median difference of 3.0 (0.002 to 8.0) for SFD.
CONCLUSION Improvement of clinical symptoms in response to fluticasone can be shown in this high risk group of infants. In the absence of effective alternatives inhaled corticosteroids should be considered in this patient group.
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