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NIHR Signal High-flow oxygen therapy may have a role in treating infants with more severe bronchiolitis
A randomised controlled trial of 1,472 infants with bronchiolitis found that more children improved when started on high-flow oxygen therapy than with standard oxygen therapy. Those who failed to improve on standard therapy were switched to high flow oxygen. Most then improved - overall, similar numbers were transferred to intensive care. There was also no difference between the groups in the proportion of infants needing intubation, length of time on oxygen therapy or days spent in hospital. ...
NIHR Signal Ultrasound shows potential for confirming the diagnosis of pneumonia in children
Ultrasound scans of the lungs can be more accurate than chest X-rays for diagnosing pneumonia in children in some circumstances. A review of the published evidence found that lung ultrasound was more sensitive (missed fewer cases) and about as specific (gave about the same number of false alarms) as chest X-ray, when used to confirm suspected community-acquired pneumonia in children. While pneumonia is a clinical diagnosis, X-ray is often used for confirmation. Ultrasound also spares the child...
NIHR Signal A reminder that too much oxygen increases mortality in acutely ill adults
In acutely ill adults, liberal use of oxygen supplementation is found to increase the risk of death compared with more conservative oxygen strategies. More liberal oxygen therapy increases patient mortality in hospital by about 11 deaths amongst every 1,000 people exposed. Deaths also increase after 30 days follow-up, without improving other important health outcomes, such as disability, infection or length of hospital stay. Oxygen is routinely used for acutely ill patients and is widely consid...
NIHR Signal Increasing inhaled steroids for short periods reduces asthma exacerbations
Taking four times the usual dose of inhaled corticosteroids for up to two weeks can modestly reduce the chance of asthma worsening. This NIHR-funded trial assessed increasing the inhaled corticosteroid dose compared with staying on the usual dose, as part of a self-management plan. Participants were adults and adolescents with uncontrolled asthma and had at least one exacerbation needing additional medical attention in the year before the trial. Quadrupling the inhaled corticosteroid dose when...
NIHR Signal One week of steroids may be as effective as two weeks in managing severe COPD
A shorter course of steroids lasting 3 to 7 days appears as effective as the recommended 7 to 14-day standard treatment for managing a flare-up of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This update to an earlier Cochrane review looked at randomised clinical trials comparing a short course (7 days or fewer) with a longer course (7 to 14 days) of steroids given by mouth or injection. All participants had been admitted to hospital, but none required mechanical ventilation. The evidence sug...
NIHR Signal Balance of long-term benefits and risks of caesarean delivery explained
Caesarean delivery has immediate known benefits and risks for those women who need help in childbirth. This review measures the long-term outcomes for the mothers’ health, the links to a higher risk of childhood illness and the chance of problems with future pregnancies. The large review of 80 studies from high-income countries used data from nearly 30 million women and compared caesarean section with vaginal delivery. Caesarean delivery was associated with a lower risk of urinary inconti...
NIHR Signal Vaccination likely to reduce influenza in healthy children
In healthy children aged two to 16, vaccines are likely to reduce laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and may reduce the risk of influenza-like illness compared to placebo. Seven children need to receive the live vaccine to prevent one case of confirmed influenza. Twenty children need to be vaccinated to prevent one case of influenza-like illness. This updated Cochrane review included 41 trials of either live attenuated (weakened) or inactivated influenza vaccines, with over 200,000 partici...
NIHR Signal Physiotherapy education before major abdominal surgery reduces lung complications
A physiotherapy session before planned abdominal surgery, explaining the importance of breathing exercises and sitting out of bed as soon after surgery as possible, halves the risk of pneumonia. This trial compared the physiotherapy session with usual care which was provided to all 432 participants. This consisted of a leaflet given in the pre-operative outpatient clinic outlining the exercises, and physiotherapy input in the days after surgery. Just seven people would need to receive the addit...
NIHR Signal Self-care support for children with long-term conditions may reduce emergency costs
Helping children and parents to manage long-term conditions like asthma may reduce their need for emergency care, and is unlikely to reduce children’s quality of life. This NIHR review found that structured professional help with self-care, including online support, provision of care plans, case management and face-to-face education, was linked to small increases in quality of life scores and fewer emergency department visits. However, there was no clear evidence that supported self-care ...
NIHR Signal A third of health practitioners do not get vaccinated against flu
Flu vaccination uptake amongst healthcare workers in England is below the NHS target of 75%. Reasons may include mixed views on the vaccine’s effectiveness, side effects and belief they are unlikely to catch or transmit flu. Surprisingly, practical barriers such as time and access to vaccination were not mentioned in this systematic review of qualitative studies for the Department of Health. Though it included mainly North American studies, the findings are consistent with issues raised i...
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