Steroids kick in to improve croup symptoms in two hours

They shorten hospital stays by about 15 hours

Using glucocorticoids for croup in children lessens symptom severity after two hours and reduces return visits to the GP or hospital, a Cochrane review has found.

baby coughing

Researchers pooled data from 43 randomised controlled trials, including 10 from Australia, involving more than 4500 children, to update a review.

“When treated with placebo, 204 of every 1000 children will return for medical care.

"When treated with steroids, 74 to 153 of every 1000 children will return for medical care,” the authors wrote.

Compared with placebo, they found that glucocorticoids improved croup symptoms for up to 24 hours and shortened hospital stays by about 15 hours.

The authors noted that dexamethasone was more effective than budesonide at reducing the symptoms of croup six and 12 hours after treatment. 

But, they add, there is still some level of uncertainty remaining regarding the optimal type, dose, and mode of glucocorticoid treatment. 

Read the full study here.