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Heather Hames
Jamie A Seabrook
Doreen Matsui
Michael J Rieder
Gary I Joubert


Corticosteroids, taste, asthma, children



Palatability is an important factor in medication compliance for children where the acceptability of a liquid medication and its ease of administration will be greatly affected by its taste.


The  objective  of  this  study  was  to  determine  which,  if  any  of  two  steroid  preparations,  oral dexamethasone  or  oral  prednisolone,  was  more  palatable to children requiring steroid treatment  for asthma.


A single-blind taste test of 2 different steroid suspensions, liquid prednisolone (1mg/ml) versus liquid dexamethasone (1mg/ml), was conducted in children aged 5-12 years, presenting to the pediatric emergency department with an exacerbation of asthma requiring steroid treatment. Children received 2.5mls of either prednisolone or dexamethasone and were asked to score their impression of taste on a 10 cm visual analog scale. After cleansing of the palate they were given the other steroid and scored its taste.


Thirty-nine children (54% male) were enrolled in the study. The mean age was 7.1 years (SD=2.0). The median visual analog scale measurement for dexamethasone was 8.2 cm (IQR= 5.2) whilst the median measurement for prednisolone was 5.0 cm (IQR= 7.3), p=0.03. Male children were more likely to prefer dexamethasone than females with a median score of 9.9 cm (IQR=3.8) for males vs. 5.9 cm (IQR=9.3) for females, p=0.005. There was no gender preference for prednisolone.


There was a statistically significant difference between the taste of dexamethasone and prednisolone, with dexamethasone being the preferred steroid among pediatric patients with asthma. Males were much more likely to prefer dexamethasone than females

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