Dexamethasone reduces deaths in newborns with meningitis

Giving newborns with meningitis dexamethasone significantly reduces deaths, a randomized study involving 80 patients in a New Delhi hospital has found:

Key Point: Neonatal meningitis was less likely to result in death and other serious problems when treated with dexamethasone prior to administration of antibiotics. Babies were also less likely to have progression of SIRS.
  • In the study, 12.5% of the babies who received dexamethasone died, compared to 40% of the babies who received the saline placebo.
  • 17% of surviving babies in the dexamethasone group had hearing loss, compared to 41% of the babies in the placebo group.
  • All patients, of course, received antibiotics, initially consisting of Ceftriaxone and Amikacin. The dexamethasone was administered prior to the administration of antibiotics.
  • If patients had shock at admission, progression of SIRS, persistent seizures, pupillary abnormalities, or resistance to the first two antibiotics, meropenem was added.
  • The study also found the dexamethasone reduced cerebrospinal fluid abnormalities.

The study, published online October 6 in the Indian Journal of Pediatrics, is only the third to look at steroid use in the treatment of...

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