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Drug reduces unscheduled trips to doctor for childhood asthma attacks

Young children with attacks of sporadic, recurring asthma who were treated with the prescription drug montelukast by their parents had fewer unscheduled trips to the doctor, missed less days from school or childcare, and caused their parents to take fewer days off work for their care.

Results from this multi-center, randomized, double-blind and placebo-controlled trial appear in the second issue for February 2007 of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Colin F. Robertson, M.D., of the Department of Respiratory Medicine at Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, and eight associates studied 202 children, ages 2 to 14, who were given either montelukast or placebo by their parents when needed for one year. All of the children had intermittent, doctor-diagnosed asthma.

By the end of the year-long study, the patients treated with montelukast had 163 unscheduled health resource visits for their illness, as compared with 228 in the placebo group.

"Symptoms were reduced by 14 percent, nights awakened by 8.6 percent, days off from school or childcare by 37 percent and parent time off from work by 33 percent," said Dr. Robertson.

In asthma, children's airways become chronically inflamed, with various stimuli causing episodes of airway obstruction and breathing difficulties. The disease is the most common chronic disorder of childhood and affects an estimated 6.2 million children under age 18 in the U.S.

Intermittent asthma is the most common pattern of the disease in children, accounting for attacks in 75 percent of affected youngsters.

Montelukast sodium, a specific leukotriene receptor antagonist that has been shown to be effective in children, is used to prevent mild, persistent asthma. It reduces the swelling and inflammation that tend to close airways, and relaxes the walls of the bronchial tubes, allowing more air to
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Contact: Suzy Martin
smartin@thoracic.org
212-315-8631
American Thoracic Society
15-Feb-2007


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