Early steroid pulse therapy among children with influenza virus-associated encephalopathy

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Background: Influenza virus-associated encephalopathy (IAE) can lead to neurological sequela and mortality among children. Therefore, instant recognition and therapeutic intervention for IAE are crucial. In some clinical subtypes of IAE, steroid pulse therapy might be beneficial, especially when it is administered in the early phase. However, early identification of patients who may benefit from steroid pulse therapy is sometimes difficult. We aimed to assess the effectiveness of early steroid pulse therapy among children with IAE. Methods: In this retrospective observational study, we used a national database that covers half of the acute care inpatients across Japan to identify inpatients aged ≤ 18 years with a diagnosis of IAE between July 2010 and March 2017. Unfavorable outcome was defined as a composite outcome of sequela including Japan Coma Scale ≥ 10 at discharge, requiring tracheostomy, mechanical ventilation, enteral tube feeding, rehabilitation at discharge, or in-hospital death. Propensity score matching was performed to compare unfavorable outcome and in-hospital mortality between patients with and without steroid pulse therapy within 2 days of admission. Results: Among 692 patients included in the study, the mean age was 5.8 years, and 55.8% were male. The overall in-hospital mortality was 1.3%, and the proportion of the unfavorable outcome was 15.0%. We observed no significant difference in the unfavorable outcome between matched patients (168 patients in each group) with and without early steroid pulse therapy (13.7% vs 8.3%; P = 0.16) or in-hospital mortality (0.6% vs 1.2%; P = 1.0). Conclusions: We did not observe the effectiveness of early steroid pulse therapy on patient outcomes among children with IAE in our study population including all clinical subtypes of IAE. Further studies considering severity of illness are warranted to determine whether steroid pulse therapy is beneficial, especially for specific clinical subtypes of IAE.




Hatachi, T., Michihata, N., Takeuchi, M., Matsui, H., Fushimi, K., & Yasunaga, H. (2020). Early steroid pulse therapy among children with influenza virus-associated encephalopathy. Journal of Intensive Care, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40560-020-00479-8

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