[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies have evaluated dexamethasone for prevention of hearing loss in childhood bacterial meningitis, but results have varied. We compared dexamethasone and/or glycerol recipients with placebo recipients, and measured hearing at 3 threshold levels.
Children aged 2 months to 16 years with meningitis were treated with ceftriaxone but were double-blindly randomly assigned to receive adjuvant dexamethasone intravenously, glycerol orally, both agents, or neither agent. We used the Glasgow coma scale to grade the presenting status. The end points were the better ear's ability to detect sounds of >40 dB, >or=60 dB, and >or=80 dB, with these thresholds indicating any, moderate-to-severe, or severe impairment, respectively. All tests were interpreted by an external audiologist. Influence of covariates in the treatment groups was examined by binary logistic regression.
Of the 383 children, mostly with meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b or Streptococcus pneumoniae, 101 received dexamethasone, 95 received dexamethasone and glycerol, 92 received glycerol, and 95 received placebo. Only the presenting condition and young age predicted impairment independently through all threshold levels. Each lowering point in the Glasgow scale increased the risk by 15% to 21% (odds ratio: 1.20, 1.21, and 1.15 [95% confidence interval: 1.06-1.35, 1.07-1.37, and 1.01-1.31]; P = .005, .003, and .039) for any, moderate-to-severe, or severe impairment, respectively. Each increasing month of age decreased the risk by 2% to 6% (P = .0001, .0007, and .041, respectively). Neither dexamethasone nor glycerol prevented hearing loss at these levels regardless of the causative agent or timing of antimicrobial agent.
With bacterial meningitis, the child's presenting status and young age are the most important predictors of hearing impairment. Little relief is obtained from current adjuvant medications.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A post hoc analysis of 654 children with bacterial meningitis showed that the level of consciousness is the most important predictor of death and/or neurological sequelae, more than is etiology per se. This finding emphasizes the need of including a measurement of the presenting status in all studies examining treatment efficacy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite favorable meta-analyses, no study involving third-generation cephalosporins for the treatment of childhood bacterial meningitis has documented a benefit of adjuvant dexamethasone therapy if the outcomes are examined individually.
We conducted a prospective, randomized, double-blind trial comparing adjuvant dexamethasone or glycerol with placebo in children aged from 2 months through 16 years in Latin America. Ceftriaxone was administered to all children; children were randomized to also receive dexamethasone intravenously, glycerol orally, both agents, or neither agent. Primary end points were death, severe neurological sequelae, or deafness, with the first 2 end points forming a composite end point. A subgroup analysis for Haemophilus influenzae type b meningitis was undertaken. Intention-to-treat analysis was performed using binary logistic regression models.
H. influenzae type b, pneumococci, and meningococci were the main agents found among 654 patients; dexamethasone was given to 166, dexamethasone and glycerol were given to 159, glycerol was given to 166, and placebo was given to 163. No adjuvant therapy significantly affected death or deafness. In contrast, glycerol and dexamethasone plus glycerol reduced severe neurological sequelae, compared with placebo; the odds ratios were 0.31 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.13-0.76; P=.010) and 0.39 (95% CI, 0.17-0.93; P=.033), respectively. For neurological sequelae and death, the odds ratios were 0.44 (95% CI, 0.25-0.76; P=.003) and 0.55 (95% CI, 0.32-0.93; P=.027), respectively. Dexamethasone therapy prevented deafness in patients with H. influenzae type b meningitis only if patients were divided grossly into dexamethasone recipients and nonrecipients and if timing between dexamethasone and ceftriaxone administration was not taken into account (odds ratio, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.09-0.77; P=.014).
Oral glycerol therapy prevents severe neurological sequelae in patients with childhood meningitis. Safety, availability, low cost, and oral administration also add to its usefulness, especially in resource-limited settings.