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J Pediatr. 2004 Aug;145(2):172-7.

beta-agonists through metered-dose inhaler with valved holding chamber versus nebulizer for acute exacerbation of wheezing or asthma in children under 5 years of age: a systematic review with meta-analysis.

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Pediatric Pulmonary Section, Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.



To compare the efficacy of beta-agonists given by metered-dose inhaler with a valved holding chamber (MDI+VHC) or nebulizer in children under 5 years of age with acute exacerbations of wheezing or asthma in the emergency department setting.


Published (1966 to 2003) randomized, prospective, controlled trials were retrieved through several different databases. The primary outcome measure was hospital admission.


Six trials (n=491) met criteria for inclusion. Patients who received beta-agonists by MDI+VHC showed a significant decrease in the admission rate compared with those by nebulizer (OR, 0.42; 95% CI, 0.24-0.72; P=.002); this decrease was even more significant among children with moderate to severe exacerbations (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.13-0.54; P=.0003). Finally, measure of severity (eg, clinical score) significantly improved in the group who received beta-agonists by MDI+VHC in comparison to those who received nebulizer treatment (standardized mean difference, -0.44; 95% CI, -0.68 to -0.20; P=.0003).


The use of an MDI+VHC was more effective in terms of decreasing hospitalization and improving clinical score than the use of a nebulizer in the delivery of beta-agonists to children under 5 years of age with moderate to severe acute exacerbations of wheezing or asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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