Corticosteroids given to children who are hospitalized for bacterial meningitis do not provide a benefit in survival or in reduced hospital stays, according to a large multicenter study by pediatric researchers. This finding stands in contrast to previous studies in hospitalized adults, for which corticosteroids dramatically reduced mortality.
“Because of the demonstrated benefits of these drugs in adults, physicians have increasingly been using corticosteroids in children with bacterial meningitis,” said study leader Samir S. Shah, M.D., an infectious diseases specialist from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “This study reminds us again that children are not just small adults. We need to consider whether the problems associated with corticosteroid use, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, outweigh any potential benefits.”
He added that further research should analyze whether corticosteroids may provide other benefits to children, such as improved neurological outcomes among survivors, a question not considered in this study.
The study appears in the May 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Shah’s team analyzed medical records of 2,780 children with bacterial meningitis at 27 U.S. pediatric hospitals from 2001 to 2006. The median age of the children was nine months. Approximately 9 percent, or 248, of the children studied received corticosteroids, with steroid use doubling during the study period, from under 6 percent of children in 2001 to 12 percent in 2006.
There was no significant difference in mortality nor in time to hospital discharge, between children who received corticosteroids and those who did not. Overall, unadjusted mortality rates were 6 percent among children receiving corticosteroids, versus 4 percent among those not receiving them. There also was no significant difference in those outcomes between those receiving and not receiving corticosteroids in the subsets of children with meningitis caused by pneumococcal bacteria or by meningococcal bacteria.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the meninges, the membrane lining the brain. The bacterial form is relatively rare in children, with an incidence of about eight in 100,000 in the U.S. However, bacterial meningitis is potentially life-threatening, and requires hospitalization and treatment with antibiotics. Several different varieties of bacteria may cause meningitis, although the patterns have changed with the introduction of vaccines.
Previous studies had shown that corticosteroids had a clear benefit in preventing hearing loss in children whose meningitis was caused by Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria. However, since the Hib vaccine was approved for routine use in childhood immunizations in 1985, cases of Hib meningitis have dropped sharply in the United States. Now bacterial meningitis in children is more commonly caused by pneumococcal or meningococcal bacteria.
Further studies may reveal that corticosteroids may also reduce hearing loss or other neurologic injuries in children with bacterial meningitis not caused by Hib, said Shah, but there is currently no such evidence. He added, “Our study shows the need for a further study in children—a large randomized clinical trial to examine all outcomes of steroid use, before the use of these medicines becomes routine in children with bacterial meningitis.”
Rachel Salis-Silverman | EurekAlert!
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
22.09.2017 | Life Sciences
22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering
22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy