Background: Antileukotrienes and inhaled corticosteroids are asthma controller agents widely used in the treatment of pediatric asthma.
Objective: To evaluate the effects of montelukast and beclomethasone on linear growth in prepubertal asthmatic children for 1 year.
Methods: This was a 30-center study of boys (6.4-9.4 years old) and girls (6.4-8.4 years old) at Tanner stage I with mild, persistent asthma. After a placebo run-in period, 360 patients were randomized in equal ratios to double-blind, double-dummy treatment with 5 mg of montelukast, 200 microg of beclomethasone twice daily (positive control), or placebo for 56 weeks; 90% of the patients completed the study. The primary end point was linear growth velocity, measured using a stadiometer.
Results: Linear growth rates were similar between the montelukast and placebo groups; the mean difference for the year was 0.03 cm. The mean growth rate with beclomethasone was significantly less than with placebo (-0.78 cm) or montelukast (0.81 cm) (P < .001 for both). Median percentage of days with beta-agonist use was greater with placebo (14.58%) vs montelukast (10.55%) or beclomethasone (6.65%) (P < .05 for all). More patients used oral corticosteroid rescue with placebo (34.7%) than with montelukast (25.0%) or beclomethasone (23.5%). An imbalance in bone marker levels was seen with beclomethasone but not with montelukast.
Conclusion: In prepubertal asthmatic children, montelukast did not affect linear growth, whereas the growth rate with beclomethasone was significantly decreased during 1 year of treatment.