Background: Increased amounts of cysteinyl leukotrienes have been demonstrated in urine samples from asthmatic patients, particularly during exacerbations of asthma. Although the use of leukotriene receptor antagonists has been recommended in the treatment of chronic asthma, no guidelines are available regarding their use in the treatment of acute asthma.
Objective: To investigate the safety and effectiveness of a 4-mg tablet of oral montelukast in addition to short-acting beta2-agonist bronchodilator as the initial treatment in mild to moderate asthma exacerbations in children between 2 and 5 years old.
Methods: Fifty-one patients who were experiencing mild to moderate asthma exacerbation were included in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study. Each patient received either a 4-mg tablet of montelukast or placebo in addition to inhaled salbutamol and were followed up for 4 hours. The pulmonary index score, respiratory rate, and pulse were determined at baseline and throughout 4 hours after administration.
Results: Compared with placebo, the pulmonary index scores and respiratory rates were significantly lower in the montelukast group starting at 90 minutes (P = .01). This difference persisted at 120, 180, and 240 minutes of the study (P = .008, P = .02, and P = .048, respectively). At the end of the first hour of treatment, oral steroid need was 20.8% and 38.5% in patients randomized to the montelukast and placebo groups, respectively (P = .22). Hospitalization rates were not different between the 2 treatment groups.
Conclusion: A single 4-mg tablet of montelukast had the potential to provide additive clinical benefit in mild to moderate acute asthma in preschool-aged children when administered concomitantly with short-acting beta2-agonist bronchodilators as the initial treatment.