Cough is the most common symptom presenting to primary care services in Australia and internationally. It is also the most common reason for referrals to paediatricians and respiratory physicians. Cough in children is a significant health concern; impacting their quality of life, the family and financially with medication expenses. The symptom of cough is the leading indicator of airway inflammation and is associated with airway hyper-reactivity in some patients. Corticosteroids treatment is common in treating children with asthma. Inhaled corticosteroids are used as a maintenance or preventive therapy. Treatment with inhaled corticosteroids will potentially reduce severity of cough in children and reduce airway inflammation. Due to the significant impact of cough on children, any improvement from inhaled corticosteroid treatment will be beneficial.

Primary objectives:

  • The primary objective of the study is to determine if, in children with acute and chronic cough, a short (14 day) course of inhaled corticosteroids will reduce cough severity, compared to placebo (standard care).

Secondary objectives:

To compare lung function tests carried out at baseline and at completion of medication, show response to Inhaled corticosteroids in children with chronic and acute cough:

  • Days to resolution of cough (duration of cough)
  • What impact does cough have on quality of life for the child and family?
  • Incidence of adverse events – unscheduled Dr’s visits, child missing school, parents away from work due to child’s cough.
  • Persistence of cough at day 28

Study outcomes

  • A cross-sectional emergency department study showed that the burden of acute cough-related illnesses in children is high, and suggested that asthma is likely under-diagnosed.
  • A 16-item Parent-proxy Children's Acute Cough-specific Quality-of-Life Questionnaire was designed and found to be reliable and valid. It assess quality of life related to childhood acute cough at a given time.
  • The RCT analysis is ongoing.

Publications from the study

J Paediatr Child Health. 2019 Feb;55(2):181-187. doi: 10.1111/jpc.14146.

JACI 2015 135 (5):1179-1185

Lead investigator
Sophie Anderson
Chief investigator
Professor Anne Chang
Project period