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Budesonide improves decreased airway conductance in infants with respiratory symptoms
  1. A S Pelkonen1,
  2. K Malmström1,
  3. L P Malmberg1,
  4. S Sarna2,
  5. M Turpeinen1,
  6. M Kajosaari3,
  7. T Haahtela1,
  8. M J Mäkelä1
  1. 1
    Department of Allergy, Skin and Allergy Hospital, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  2. 2
    Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3
    Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Dr Anna S Pelkonen, Department of Allergy, Helsinki University Central Hospital, PO Box 160, FIN-00029 HUS, Finland; anna.pelkonen{at}


Objective: Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are commonly used to treat wheezing disorders in children, but few studies have investigated the effect of ICS on lung function in infants. We evaluated the efficacy of inhaled budesonide for decreased specific airway conductance (sGaw) as an indication of bronchial obstruction in very young children with recurrent cough and/or wheeze.

Patients, design and interventions: Functional residual capacity (FRC) and sGaw of steroid-naive children aged 3–26 months with respiratory symptoms were measured using an infant whole-body plethysmograph. Clinically indicated bronchoscopy was performed in 79% of the patients to exclude anatomical abnormalities before randomisation. Children with abnormal lung function and respiratory symptoms were randomised into two treatment groups, receiving either inhaled budesonide (400 μg/day) or placebo with NebuChamber for 6 weeks. Inhaled terbutaline 0.25 mg/dose was used as a rescue medication. Lung function measurements were repeated after 6 weeks.

Main outcome measure: Lung function.

Results: 44 children with a median age of 11.3 months (range 3.7–25.9) completed the study. Median sGaw improved from a z score of −3.6 to −1.2 (p<0.001) in the budesonide group and from −3.2 to −2.6 (p = 0.033) in the placebo group; between group difference p = 0.014. Improvement in sGaw was more pronounced in children with atopy (p = 0.017). Symptom-free days increased in both the budesonide and placebo groups with no difference between groups.

Conclusion: Treatment with inhaled budesonide for 6 weeks improved sGaw in young children with chronic cough or wheeze and bronchial obstruction.

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  • Funding: This study was supported by Helsinki University Central Hospital Research Funds, Sigrid Juselius Foundation, the Foundation for Paediatric Research in Finland, Nummela Sanatorium Foundation, The Medical Society of Finland (Finska Läkaresällskapet) and AstraZeneca Finland.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval: This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Helsinki University Central Hospital.