Results for John Hunter Hospital

How are we treating severe childhood asthma in Australasia?

Most children with asthma presenting to an emergency department (ED) are managed with inhaled medications and oral steroids. Infrequently, some children are very unwell, and require assistance with their breathing, or intravenous medication Currently, there is minimal information to guide clinicians on which treatment to choose for severe acute asthma. All have side-effects, and we do not know which is most effective. Studies from the UK and Australasia demonstrate significant variation in practice, although Australasian data is nearly 10 years out of date. When comparing treatments, it is important to determine whether or not they can reduce the risk of severe complications, or whether they make a difference in important treatment outcomes.

This project will allow us to determine current management practices for children with severe acute asthma and/or wheeze; how common severe acute asthma is and also how frequently complications of severe asthma occur; and understand where differences in therapy exist between states/regions. We will be looking at sites across Australia and New Zealand. Once complete, this project will provide important data to allow us to design future research to establish the best treatments for severe asthma.

EMF is funding the Queensland sites taking part in this Australasian trial. This study is being run by the PREDICT network. The Chief Investigatory is A/Prof Simon Craig. The study will include 18,000 children aged 1 – 18 years treated for asthma in the ED.


Is prednisolone an effective treatment for Bell’s Palsy in children?

Bell’s palsy or acute idiopathic lower motor neurone facial paralysis is characterised by sudden onset paralysis or weakness of the muscles to one side of the face controlled by the facial nerve. It is the third most common neurological reason for children to present acutely to hospital.

In adults, there is conclusive evidence from two major recent trials that a short course of prednisolone, a cheap, widely available and safe steroid, can significantly increase the number of Bell’s palsy patients who completely recover. While the medical problems associated with Bell’s palsy are similar, in children there is no good evidence that prednisolone is an effective treatment.

Many neurological conditions progress differently in children and treatment methods sometimes vary. Children may react differently to prednisolone and without paediatric evidence; treatment guidelines for children with Bell’s palsy remain absent or vague, with variable and overall low rates of steroid use in children by physicians.

The lack of evidence and clinical uncertainty in the treatment of Bell’s palsy in children warrants a definitive trial to determine the efficacy of prednisolone as a treatment for this condition in children. The aim of this study is to assess the utility of steroids in Bell’s palsy in children in a large multicentre randomised, placebo-controlled, trial. The trial will take place in at least 10 hospitals within Australia and New Zealand, involving more than 500 children.


A Prospective Observational Cohort Study of Paediatric Status Epilepticus in Emergency Departments of Australia and New Zealand. The Status Epilepticus Australasian Registry for Children (SEARCh).

Convulsive status epilepticus (CSE) occurs when seizures do not stop spontaneously. It is the most severe form of epilepsy, and can result in long-term disabilities and rarely death. It can affect both adults and children, although the causes and outcomes are different in these groups of patients. Treatments of patients with CSE are largely based on expert opinion rather than strong evidence, due to the difficult nature of conducting quality trials in patients with this relatively infrequent condition in the emergency setting. We will determine the incidence and causes of CSE in children in Australia and New Zealand and collect information on the type of seizure, duration, treatment and outcome to determine ways to improve the management of children with CSE.


research projects

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