As results of the double-blind trial, led by Steve Cunningham of Edinburgh University, appeared in the British Medical Journal the other day, hope among parents to supply oxygen to their infants suffering from bronchiolitis at home rises.

It’s natural to panic when your infant has bronchiolitis. Parents, it seems, of the sick infants want to acquire as much medical information as is necessary to ensure they know the health status of their babies.

Well, the findings of the new trial might interest such parents.

Bronchiolitis In Infants: Study Findings

Steve Cunningham, of the department of child life and health at Edinburgh University and colleagues, designed a double-blind trial to determine the effectiveness and superiority of the two different oxygen saturation levels – 90% vs 94%. The infants suffering from bronchiolitis were randomized to the two groups.

But what’s the difference between two thresholds and how does it affect my child’s well-being?

Interestingly, Cunningham and co were wondering the same when they designed the trial: “We wanted to know what it means in terms of outcomes if you go for 90% rather than 94%.

And rightly so! As soon as the results of the trial began to appear, it was found that either oxygen threshold – 90% or 94% — had an impact on the child’s early well-being and, more importantly, parental satisfaction.

The outcomes in infants receiving 90% oxygen saturation were better than the infants receiving high oxygen saturation. The outcome in both cases was the resolution of cough.

Cunningham and co noted that children receiving low oxygen saturation therapy in the emergency department (ED) of the hospital not only recovered earlier but their parents’ perception was positive about the therapy.

Now, this is big. Appeasing the parent of a sick child with satisfactory medical treatment and knowledge is rather tough. A parent has hundreds of questions and worries running in his or her head. The findings of the new trial may help parents to supply oxygen of the exact required threshold to their diseased child at home.

Pulse oximetry, optimum oxygen saturation, and clinical interpretation of their values have been the moot point in pulmonology. They call it a technological Pandora’s box. The issue remains at the forefronts of discussion among the clinicians. Clinical studies and research are going on to find out more about the issue.

What’s Bronchiolitis?

Bronchiolitis is the infection of the small air passages of the lungs – bronchioles. The most common cause of bronchiolitis is respiratory syncytial virus or RSV.

Bronchiolitis commonly affects infants and young children. The incidence peaks from mid of November to end of December. Bronchiolitis is a big issue for pediatric hospitals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), out of 100 infants suffering from bronchiolitis, around 5-20 require hospitalization following an acute attack.

Healthy people who have contracted RSV virus exhibit mild symptoms, and recover easily but the infection can cause severe symptoms in babies and elderly. Infants who are premature or have other congenital heart or lung disease are prone to a second infection, which can be severe.

The symptoms among infants and children appear within 4-6 days of infection. Most of them recover within 1-2 weeks but those with a weakened immune system become the carriers of the virus and can spread the infection for 1-3 weeks.

What Should I Do If My Child Has Bronchiolitis?

If your baby is suffering from bronchiolitis, here are few steps that you should take:

  • Never smoke around baby. If you are a smoker, make sure you do not smoke inside the house. Smoke irritates the lining of passageways and is the number one cause of many respiratory illnesses. An infant’s airways are fragile. Ensure your baby is in a smoke-free zone.
  • Bronchiolitis is caused by a virus and is not cured by antibiotics. Antibiotics are effective against bacterial infections only. Do not give any medications to your baby.
  • Make sure your baby takes plenty of rest.
  • Feed small amounts of fluids to the baby, preferably breastmilk, from time to time. If breast milk is not available, feed infant formula to the baby. This will prevent the baby from becoming dehydrated.
  • Ensure that your child is not in contact with other babies in first few days of infection. A baby has a weak immune system and can transmit virus easily.
  • Take your baby immediately to the doctor or the ED if he or she:
  • Has distressed breathing i.e., shallow or too fast
  • Cannot feed normally
  • Has prolonged cough or sneezing
  • Seems lethargic, sleepy and easily agitated
  • Turns blue when coughing
  • Has pale skin