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Corticosteroids in Pediatric Shock: A Call to Arms*

Menon, Kusum MD, MSc1; Wong, Hector R. MD2

Pediatric Critical Care Medicine: October 2015 - Volume 16 - Issue 8 - p e313–e317
doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000000513
Online PCCM Perspectives

Objective: To identify the issues needing to be resolved to design, implement, and complete a definitive randomized controlled trial of adjunctive corticosteroid use in children with septic shock.

Design: Pediatric studies from MEDLINE (1946 to January 2015) and Embase (1947 to January 2015) that addressed adrenal function or steroid use in critically ill children with systemic inflammatory response syndrome, sepsis, or septic shock were reviewed and their relevant points discussed.

Results: There is considerable interest in the field of corticosteroids in pediatric septic shock, which has not as yet translated into a much needed randomized controlled trial. We found that the issues that need to be resolved include identification of the target population, achievement of individual and community equipoise, selection of a patient centered, clinically meaningful primary outcome measure, and consideration of the adverse effects of corticosteroids.

Conclusions: We strongly believe that the time has come to conduct a trial on the use of corticosteroids in pediatric septic shock and that the question to be answered is Will corticosteroids given to children with septic shock result in a benefit to some patients without resulting in harm to others? Answering this question will require a collaborative and committed effort on the parts of ethics boards, families, clinicians, and researchers to actually make it happen once and for all, and we propose an international planning meeting of interested parties to achieve agreement on these identified issues.

1Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.

2Department of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH.

*See also p. 794.

Dr. Wong received support for article research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His institution received grant support from the NIH and has Sepsis biomarker related patents. Dr. Menon disclosed that he does not have any potential conflicts of interest.

Address requests for reprints to: Kusum Menon, MD, MSc, PICU, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, 401 Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON K1H 8L1, Canada. E-mail

©2015The Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies