Emollient bath additives for the treatment of childhood eczema (BATHE)

Objectives To determine the clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of including emollient bath additives in the management of eczema in children.

Design Pragmatic randomised open label superiority trial with two parallel groups.

Setting 96 general practices in Wales and western and southern England.

Participants 483 children aged 1 to 11 years, fulfilling UK diagnostic criteria for atopic dermatitis. Children with very mild eczema and children who bathed less than once weekly were excluded.

Interventions Participants in the intervention group were prescribed emollient bath additives by their usual clinical team to be used regularly for 12 months. The control group were asked to use no bath additives for 12 months. Both groups continued with standard eczema management, including leave-on emollients, and caregivers were given standardised advice on how to wash participants.

Main outcome measures The primary outcome was eczema control measured by the patient oriented eczema measure (POEM, scores 0-7 mild, 8-16 moderate, 17-28 severe) weekly for 16 weeks. Secondary outcomes were eczema severity over one year (monthly POEM score from baseline to 52 weeks), number of eczema exacerbations resulting in primary healthcare consultation, disease specific quality of life (dermatitis family impact), generic quality of life (child health utility-9D), utilisation of resources, and type and quantity of topical corticosteroid or topical calcineurin inhibitors prescribed.

Results 483 children were randomised and one child was withdrawn, leaving 482 children in the trial: 51% were girls (244/482), 84% were of white ethnicity (447/470), and the mean age was 5 years. 96% (461/482) of participants completed at least one post-baseline POEM, so were included in the analysis, and 77% (370/482) completed questionnaires for more than 80% of the time points for the primary outcome (12/16 weekly questionnaires to 16 weeks). The mean baseline POEM score was 9.5 (SD 5.7) in the bath additives group and 10.1 (SD 5.8) in the no bath additives group. The mean POEM score over the 16 week period was 7.5 (SD. 6.0) in the bath additives group and 8.4 (SD 6.0) in the no bath additives group. No statistically significant difference was found in weekly POEM scores between groups over 16 weeks. After controlling for baseline severity and confounders (ethnicity, topical corticosteroid use, soap substitute use) and allowing for clustering of participants within centres and responses within participants over time, POEM scores in the no bath additives group were 0.41 points higher than in the bath additives group (95% confidence interval −0.27 to 1.10), below the published minimal clinically important difference for POEM of 3 points. The groups did not differ in secondary outcomes, economic outcomes, or adverse effects.

Conclusions This trial found no evidence of clinical benefit from including emollient bath additives in the standard management of eczema in children. Further research is needed into optimal regimens for leave-on emollient and soap substitutes.

Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN84102309.

Reference: BMJ 2018;361:k1332


Quintupling Inhaled Glucocorticoids to Prevent Childhood Asthma Exacerbations


Asthma exacerbations occur frequently despite the regular use of asthma-controller therapies, such as inhaled glucocorticoids. Clinicians commonly increase the doses of inhaled glucocorticoids at early signs of loss of asthma control. However, data on the safety and efficacy of this strategy in children are limited.


We studied 254 children, 5 to 11 years of age, who had mild-to-moderate persistent asthma and had had at least one asthma exacerbation treated with systemic glucocorticoids in the previous year. Children were treated for 48 weeks with maintenance low-dose inhaled glucocorticoids (fluticasone propionate at a dose of 44 μg per inhalation, two inhalations twice daily) and were randomly assigned to either continue the same dose (low-dose group) or use a quintupled dose (high-dose group; fluticasone at a dose of 220 μg per inhalation, two inhalations twice daily) for 7 days at the early signs of loss of asthma control (“yellow zone”). Treatment was provided in a double-blind fashion. The primary outcome was the rate of severe asthma exacerbations treated with systemic glucocorticoids.


The rate of severe asthma exacerbations treated with systemic glucocorticoids did not differ significantly between groups (0.48 exacerbations per year in the high-dose group and 0.37 exacerbations per year in the low-dose group; relative rate, 1.3; 95% confidence interval, 0.8 to 2.1; P=0.30). The time to the first exacerbation, the rate of treatment failure, symptom scores, and albuterol use during yellow-zone episodes did not differ significantly between groups. The total glucocorticoid exposure was 16% higher in the high-dose group than in the low-dose group. The difference in linear growth between the high-dose group and the low-dose group was −0.23 cm per year (P=0.06).


In children with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma treated with daily inhaled glucocorticoids, quintupling the dose at the early signs of loss of asthma control did not reduce the rate of severe asthma exacerbations or improve other asthma outcomes and may be associated with diminished linear growth. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; STICS ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02066129.)

Reference: N Engl J Med 2018; 378:891-901

Association of Broad- vs Narrow-Spectrum Antibiotics With Treatment Failure, Adverse Events, and Quality of Life in Children With Acute Respiratory Tract Infections

Question  Does treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics result in better clinical or patient-centered outcomes than narrow-spectrum antibiotics for children with acute respiratory tract infections?

Findings  In a retrospective cohort of 30 159 children with acute otitis media, group A streptococcal pharyngitis, and acute sinusitis, treatment with broad-spectrum vs narrow-spectrum antibiotics was not associated with treatment failure but was associated with higher rates of adverse events (3.7% vs 2.7%, respectively). In a prospective cohort of 2472 children, receipt of broad-spectrum vs narrow-spectrum antibiotics was associated with a slightly worse child quality of life and higher rates of adverse events (35.6% vs 25.1%, respectively).

Meaning  Use of broad-spectrum vs narrow-spectrum antibiotics was not associated with better clinical or patient-centered outcomes in children with acute respiratory tract infections.

Reference: JAMA. 2017;318(23):2325-2336.

Simulation of Growth Trajectories of Childhood Obesity into Adulthood


Although the current obesity epidemic has been well documented in children and adults, less is known about long-term risks of adult obesity for a given child at his or her present age and weight. We developed a simulation model to estimate the risk of adult obesity at the age of 35 years for the current population of children in the United States.


We pooled height and weight data from five nationally representative longitudinal studies totaling 176,720 observations from 41,567 children and adults. We simulated growth trajectories across the life course and adjusted for secular trends. We created 1000 virtual populations of 1 million children through the age of 19 years that were representative of the 2016 population of the United States and projected their trajectories in height and weight up to the age of 35 years. Severe obesity was defined as a body-mass index (BMI, the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of 35 or higher in adults and 120% or more of the 95th percentile in children.


Given the current level of childhood obesity, the models predicted that a majority of today’s children (57.3%; 95% uncertainly interval [UI], 55.2 to 60.0) will be obese at the age of 35 years, and roughly half of the projected prevalence will occur during childhood. Our simulations indicated that the relative risk of adult obesity increased with age and BMI, from 1.17 (95% UI, 1.09 to 1.29) for overweight 2-year-olds to 3.10 (95% UI, 2.43 to 3.65) for 19-year-olds with severe obesity. For children with severe obesity, the chance they will no longer be obese at the age of 35 years fell from 21.0% (95% UI, 7.3 to 47.3) at the age of 2 years to 6.1% (95% UI, 2.1 to 9.9) at the age of 19 years.


On the basis of our simulation models, childhood obesity and overweight will continue to be a major health problem in the United States. Early development of obesity predicted obesity in adulthood, especially for children who were severely obese. (Funded by the JPB Foundation and others.)

A growth reference for mid upper arm circumference for age among school age children and adolescents, and validation for mortality: growth curve construction and longitudinal cohort study

Objectives To construct growth curves for mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC)-for-age z score for 5-19 year olds that accord with the World Health Organization growth standards, and to evaluate their discriminatory performance for subsequent mortality.

Design Growth curve construction and longitudinal cohort study.

Setting United States and international growth data, and cohorts in Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

Participants The Health Examination Survey (HES)/National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) US population datasets (age 5-25 years), which were used to construct the 2007 WHO growth reference for body mass index in this age group, were merged with an imputed dataset matching the distribution of the WHO 2006 growth standards age 2-6 years. Validation data were from 685 HIV infected children aged 5-17 years participating in the Antiretroviral Research for Watoto (ARROW) trial in Uganda and Zimbabwe; and 1741 children aged 5-13 years discharged from a rural Kenyan hospital (3.8% HIV infected). Both cohorts were followed-up for survival during one year.

Main outcome measures Concordance with WHO 2006 growth standards at age 60 months and survival during one year according to MUAC-for-age and body mass index-for-age z scores.

Results The new growth curves transitioned smoothly with WHO growth standards at age 5 years. MUAC-for-age z scores of −2 to −3 and less than−3, compared with −2 or more, was associated with hazard ratios for death within one year of 3.63 (95% confidence interval 0.90 to 14.7; P=0.07) and 11.1 (3.40 to 36.0; P<0.001), respectively, among ARROW trial participants; and 2.22 (1.01 to 4.9; P=0.04) and 5.15 (2.49 to 10.7; P<0.001), respectively, among Kenyan children after discharge from hospital. The AUCs for MUAC-for-age and body mass index-for-age z scores for discriminating subsequent mortality were 0.81 (95% confidence interval 0.70 to 0.92) and 0.75 (0.63 to 0.86) in the ARROW trial (absolute difference 0.06, 95% confidence interval −0.032 to 0.16; P=0.2) and 0.73 (0.65 to 0.80) and 0.58 (0.49 to 0.67), respectively, in Kenya (absolute difference in AUC 0.15, 0.07 to 0.23; P=0.0002).

Conclusions The MUAC-for-age z score is at least as effective as the body mass index-for-age z score for assessing mortality risks associated with undernutrition among African school aged children and adolescents. MUAC can provide simplified screening and diagnosis within nutrition and HIV programmes, and in research.

Reference: BMJ 2017;358:j3423

Effect of High-Dose vs Standard-Dose Wintertime Vitamin D Supplementation on Viral Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Young Healthy Children

Question  Does high-dose vitamin D supplementation (2000 IU/d) help to prevent wintertime viral upper respiratory tract infections compared with standard-dose vitamin D supplementation (400 IU/d) among preschool children?

Findings  In this multisite randomized clinical trial that included 703 children, the number of wintertime laboratory-confirmed viral upper respiratory tract infections was higher in the high-dose group than the standard-dose group, not a statistically significant difference.

Meaning  Vitamin D dosing higher than 400 IU/d may not be indicated for preventing wintertime viral upper respiratory tract infections in children.

Reference: JAMA. 2017;318(3):245-254.

Screening for Obesity and Intervention for Weight Management in Children and Adolescents

Importance  Obesity is common in children and adolescents in the United States, is associated with negative health effects, and increases the likelihood of obesity in adulthood.

Objective  To systematically review the benefits and harms of screening and treatment for obesity and overweight in children and adolescents to inform the US Preventive Services Task Force.

Data Sources  MEDLINE, PubMed, PsycINFO, Cochrane Collaboration Registry of Controlled Trials, and the Education Resources Information Center through January 22, 2016; references of relevant publications; government websites. Surveillance continued through December 5, 2016.

Study Selection  English-language trials of benefits or harms of screening or treatment (behavior-based, orlistat, metformin) for overweight or obesity in children aged 2 through 18 years, conducted in or recruited from health care settings.

Data Extraction and Synthesis  Two investigators independently reviewed abstracts and full-text articles, then extracted data from fair- and good-quality trials. Random-effects meta-analysis was used to estimate the benefits of lifestyle-based programs and metformin.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Weight or excess weight (eg, body mass index [BMI]; BMI zscore, measuring the number of standard deviations from the median BMI for age and sex), cardiometabolic outcomes, quality of life, other health outcomes, harms.

Results  There was no direct evidence on the benefits or harms of screening children and adolescents for excess weight. Among 42 trials of lifestyle-based interventions to reduce excess weight (N = 6956), those with an estimated 26 hours or more of contact consistently demonstrated mean reductions in excess weight compared with usual care or other control groups after 6 to 12 months, with no evidence of causing harm. Generally, intervention groups showed absolute reductions in BMI z score of 0.20 or more and maintained their baseline weight within a mean of approximately 5 lb, while control groups showed small increases or no change in BMI z score, typically gaining a mean of 5 to 17 lb. Only 3 of 26 interventions with fewer contact hours showed a benefit in weight reduction. Use of metformin (8 studies, n = 616) and orlistat (3 studies, n = 779) were associated with greater BMI reductions compared with placebo: −0.86 (95% CI, −1.44 to −0.29; 6 studies; I2 = 0%) for metformin and −0.50 to −0.94 for orlistat. Groups receiving lifestyle-based interventions offering 52 or more hours of contact showed greater improvements in blood pressure than control groups: −6.4 mm Hg (95% CI, −8.6 to −4.2; 6 studies; I2 = 51%) for systolic blood pressure and −4.0 mm Hg (95% CI, −5.6 to −2.5; 6 studies; I2 = 17%) for diastolic blood pressure. There were mixed findings for insulin or glucose measures and no benefit for lipids. Medications showed small or no benefit for cardiometabolic outcomes, including fasting glucose level. Nonserious harms were common with medication use, although discontinuation due to adverse effects was usually less than 5%.

Conclusions and Relevance  Lifestyle-based weight loss interventions with 26 or more hours of intervention contact are likely to help reduce excess weight in children and adolescents. The clinical significance of the small benefit of medication use is unclear.

Reference: JAMA. 2017;317(23):2427-2444.