Steroids fail to help children with meningitis

Bacterial meningitis is a terrible disease that usually ends in death, especially among children in developing countries. Up to half of all patients in developing countries will die compared with just 5 per cent in the West.

Doctors tend to prescribe steroids as a standard treatment, but new research shows that they need to think again.

Scientists studied 598 children with pyogenic (pus-producing) meningitis admitted to a hospital in Malawi; half were given the steroid dexamethasone and the rest a placebo. The overall number of deaths was the same in each group whether the children stayed in hospital or not (Lancet, 2002; 360: 211-8).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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