Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia is a common opportunistic infection in pediatric acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Mortality rates of 34% have been reported for the acute infection, with much higher mortality rates occurring in the presence of respiratory failure. Corticosteroids reduce the morbidity and mortality in adults with AIDS and P carinii pneumonia. We report herein our experience with corticosteroids in P carinii pneumonia in pediatric AIDS.
When the data on adults were published, we began treating our patients with corticosteroids. We compared these children (group 1) with those children treated in a similar manner, but without corticosteroids (group 2).
The two groups had similar ages, initial serum lactate dehydrogenase levels, and initial alveolar-arterial difference in partial pressure of oxygen. There was a significant (P<.0001) reduction in the need for mechanical ventilation and in mortality in the corticosteroid-treated group.
Corticosteroid therapy during acute infection with P carinii in young children with AIDS appears to significantly reduce morbidity (as measured by the need for mechanical ventilation) and mortality.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1994;148:638-641)