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A study, “Outdoor Cold Air vs Room Temperature Exposure for Croup Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” found that children’s symptoms improved when they spent 30 minutes in outdoor cold air as an adjunct to receiving a steroid medication. The study, conducted in Switzerland and published in the September 2023 Pediatrics (published online Aug. 1), analyzed 118 children with mild or moderate croup who were randomly assigned to spend time in outdoor cold air or indoor room temperature between Nov. 2016-May 2021. The participants, upon arrival to a pediatric emergency department, were given a single dose of oral dexamethasone and then randomly assigned either to wait 30 minutes indoors or outdoors, where they were given blankets. The average age of the participants was 32 months old. Researchers found that a 30-minute exposure to outdoor cold air (under 10°C or under 50°F), in addition to the oral dexamethasone, reduced the intensity of clinical symptoms in children with croup, especially those with moderate symptoms. Croup is the most common cause of acute upper airway obstruction in children and is characterized by the abrupt onset of a distinctive, predominantly nocturnal, seal-like barking cough. The authors suggest that this nonpharmacological measure, easy to perform by parents and guardians, could offer some immediate benefit to children with croup.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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