Background: Allergic rhinitis (AR) can have substantial negative impact on children. Most notably, it can impede learning during the school-age years. Other consequences include adverse behavioral and psychosocial effects, poor quality of life, and potential impact on serious comorbidities, such as asthma.
Consensus panel: In February 2004, in a conference sponsored by Aventis Pharmaceuticals, a multidisciplinary group convened to review relevant clinical data for the purposes of developing consensus recommendations for the management of AR in children. The consensus panel consisted of academic, school health, and medical providers, who were identified based on previous work and publications.
Consensus finds: The focus of discussions was to assess the degree of impact of AR in schoolchildren and, based on this information, to determine how to improve screening, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment, to help ensure quality of life and maximal school performance in this population. The group considered the most critical factor in successful management ot be communication and collaboration among parents, educators, and healthcare professionals. Knowledge of the common signs and symptoms of AR in children can help to ensure early diagnosis, appropriate intervention, and clinically favorable outcomes. Importantly, both uncontrolled symptoms of AR, as well as adverse effects from medications, can diminish cognitive function and learning. When choosing treatment for children with AR, consideration must be given to the side effects of medications. All first-generation and some second-generation antihistamines can be associated with adverse effects on cognitive function and learning, as a result of their sedative properties. Treatment with non-sedating second-generation antihistamine has been shown to improve learning potential and is an ideal choice for treatment in this population.
Conclusion: Existing data indicate that further studies using objective measures of impairment in children taking antihistamine medications should be conducted to evaluate the impact of disease and treatment.