Placebo seems to ease nighttime coughing in children

February 1, 2015

A comparison of how well agave nectar, placebo, and no treatment relieve nocturnal cough found that both agave and placebo significantly improved symptoms and that agave offered no additional benefit over placebo.

A comparison of how well agave nectar, placebo, and no treatment relieve nocturnal cough found that both agave and placebo significantly improved symptoms and that agave offered no additional benefit over placebo.

The 1-night trial was conducted in 119 children aged from 2 to 47 months who had nonspecific cough for up to 7 days. Participants received a single dose of agave nectar, placebo, or no treatment 30 minutes before bedtime. Parents completed a survey about their child’s symptoms and effects on the child’s and their own sleep the night preceding enrollment (before participants had received any treatment) and the day after the trial was conducted.

Based on parents’ responses, investigators noted that compared with no treatment, agave and placebo resulted in significant improvements in severity of symptoms and their effects on sleep, except with regard to how bothersome the cough was to the child.

Specifically, compared with the no-treatment group, both the agave and placebo groups experienced similar improvements in cough frequency and severity; severity of rhinorrhea and congestion; and child and parental sleep (Paul IM, et al. JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168[12]:1107-1113).

Ms Freedman is a freelance medical editor and writer in New Jersey. Dr Burke, section editor for Journal Club, is chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. The editors have nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with or financial interests in any organizations that may have an interest in any part of this article.