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J Trauma. 2010 Jan;68(1):193-7. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e3181a8b326.

Propranolol does not reduce risk for acute stress disorder in pediatric burn trauma.

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  • 1Shriners Hospitals for Children-Galveston, Galveston, Texas, USA.



Acute stress disorder (ASD) can interfere with satisfactory recovery of children with severe burn injuries. Recent studies have found propranolol to be effective in reducing posttraumatic symptoms, but the benefits of this medication with ASD are unknown. Therefore, we hypothesized that individuals who were administered propranolol acutely would be less likely to develop ASD than those who were not.


A review of electronic medical records was conducted on the children included in a previous blinded randomized-control trial, in which the participants received propranolol or no propranolol during the acute phase of recovery (first 30 days). These data were merged with electronic information regarding medication treatment for ASD. The psychologists and clinicians who had previously assessed for ASD for purposes of treating the children's distress were blinded to who received propranolol and who did not.


There were 363 participants (232 boys, 131 girls) and the mean total body surface area was 56%. Of this sample, 22 participants had been previously diagnosed and treated for ASD, and 341 were in a non-ASD group. Eight percent of those children who received propranolol required treatment for ASD, whereas 5% of children who received no propranolol also required treatment for ASD. No statistically significant difference was noted.


Propranolol was not found to influence the risk for subsequent ASD. This finding is in contrast to the observed benefit of propranolol reported in other studies with different at risk populations. Further exploration is warranted to assess the possible long-term benefit on posttraumatic symptoms in pediatric burn survivor patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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