Glucocorticoids for Croup

This week, as part of the Child Health Emergency Medicine Social Media Campaign, we are highlighting a Cochrane summary on glucocorticoids for the treatment of croup. This review was selected for the TREKK Evidence Repository on croup.

Key Messages:


Related TREKK Resources:

Cochrane Summary:

Glucocorticoids for croup

Croup is common in children and is thought to be triggered after a viral infection. Croup causes swelling in the throat and windpipe (trachea) and causes hoarseness, a barking cough and noisy breathing. Croup usually gets better by itself but sometimes drugs are used to try and improve this condition. The review looked at trials of one type of steroid drug, glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids can reduce the swelling and make it easier for the child to breathe. We found that glucocorticoids can start improving croup in children within six hours (14 studies, 1031 children). The effect lasts about 12 hours (eight studies, 532 children), lessens the need for other drugs, and shortens hospital stays by 12 hours (eight studies, 795 children). There were no adverse events associated with glucocorticoids. Additional studies are needed to determine the best dose of glucocorticoids.

Authors’ Conclusions:

Dexamethasone and budesonide are effective in relieving the symptoms of croup as early as six hours after treatment. Fewer return visits and/or (re)admissions are required and the length of time spent in hospital is decreased. Research is required to examine the most beneficial method for disseminating croup practice guidelines and to increase the uptake of evidence.

Check Out the Full Cochrane Systematic Review Below:

Russell, K.F., Liang, Y., O’Gorman, K., Johnson, D.W., Klassen, T.P. (2011). Glucocorticoids for croup. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 1, CD001955. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001955.pub3


This post is part of a weekly blog series highlighting pediatric emergency medicine (PEM) focused Cochrane summaries and other key resources selected by TREKK.

Published by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons.