Oral prednisolone significantly reduces the length of hospital stay in preschool-age children with virus-associated wheeze who present to the emergency department (ED), a new randomized controlled trial confirms.

Effects were strongest for children with severe wheeze or a history of asthma, Dr. Meredith Borland of Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth, Western Australia, and her colleagues found. They reported the findings online January 17 in Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

While corticosteroids are known to reduce the risk of hospitalization during exacerbations in adults with asthma, evidence for benefits in pediatric patients has been mixed. The largest study to date found no benefit for young children, the researchers note, but despite doubts about the generalizability of the results, some guidelines no longer recommend corticosteroids as first-line treatment.