Long-term evaluation of the impact of the h1-receptor antagonist cetirizine on the behavioral, cognitive, and psychomotor development of very young children with atopic dermatitis

Pediatr Res. 2002 Aug;52(2):251-7. doi: 10.1203/00006450-200208000-00018.


The impact of the prolonged use of cetirizine at high dose (0.25 mg/kg twice a day over 18 mo) on behavior and cognitive ability was examined in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial (ETAC-Early Treatment of the Atopic Child) designed to establish whether it was possible to prevent young children (1-2 y old at study entry) with atopic dermatitis from developing asthma. Well-validated and standardized measures of behavior (Behavior Screening Questionnaire) and cognition (McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities) were used. In addition, the ages of attainment of psychomotor milestones were established. These measures were taken between an average of 32 and 53 mo of age, both during the study treatment with cetirizine or placebo and after the study treatment had been discontinued. The Behavior Screening Questionnaire was completed at least once on approximately 300 children in each group and on approximately 200 children on five occasions. The McCarthy Scales of Children's Abilities were administered to approximately 100 in each group at three different times. There were no significant differences between the cetirizine and placebo groups on either of the behavior and cognition measures or in psychomotor milestones during or after the study treatment. These findings suggest that there are no adverse effects on behavior or learning processes associated with the prolonged use of cetirizine in young children with atopic dermatitis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cetirizine / administration & dosage*
  • Cetirizine / adverse effects
  • Child Behavior / drug effects*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Growth / drug effects
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists, Non-Sedating / administration & dosage*
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists, Non-Sedating / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / drug effects


  • Histamine H1 Antagonists, Non-Sedating
  • Cetirizine