Nebulised normal saline (NNS) may be an active treatment for acute viral bronchiolitis, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics.
The review included 29 studies comparing children ≤2 years with bronchiolitis (n=1,583) who were treated with NNS vs placebo.
It found that the standardised mean difference in respiratory scores (25 studies) after NNS was -0.7 (95% CI -0.7 to -0.6; I2 = 62%).
The weighted mean difference in respiratory scores (13 studies) after NNS was -1.6 points (95% CI -1.9 to -1.3 points; I2 = 72%).
The weighted mean difference in respiratory rate (17 studies) after NNS was -5.5 breaths per minute (95% CI -6.3 to -4.6 breaths per minute; I2 = 24%). The weighted mean difference in oxygen saturation (23 studies) after NNS was -0.4% (95% CI -0.6% to -0.2%; I2 = 79%).
The authors concluded that NNS may be an active treatment for acute viral bronchiolitis and they called for further investigation to establish whether it is a true placebo.