(HealthDay News) — High-flow oxygen therapy may be more effective than standard oxygen therapy in preventing care escalation among infants with bronchiolitis treated outside an intensive care unit, according to a study published in the March 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Donna Franklin, from Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in South Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues randomized infants (<12 months of age) who had bronchiolitis and a need for supplemental oxygen therapy to receive either high-flow oxygen therapy or standard oxygen therapy. The analysis included 1472 patients.

The researchers found that 12% of infants in the high-flow group received escalation of care due to treatment failure vs 23% in the standard-therapy group. However, there were no significant differences in the duration of hospital stay or the duration of oxygen therapy. One case of pneumothorax occurred in each group (<1% of infants). Just under two-thirds (61%) of the 167 infants in the standard-therapy group who had treatment failure responded to high-flow rescue therapy.

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“Among infants with bronchiolitis who were treated outside an intensive care unit, those who received high-flow oxygen therapy had significantly lower rates of escalation of care due to treatment failure than those in the group that received standard oxygen therapy,” the authors write.


  1. Franklin D, Babl FE, Schlapback LJ, et al. A randomized trial of high-flow oxygen therapy in infants with bronchiolitis. N Engl J Med. 2018 March  22. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1714855