Controller medication use and sleep problems in pediatric asthma: a longitudinal case-crossover analysis

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011 Sep;165(9):826-30. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.139.


Objective: To determine the effect of asthma controller medication use, choice, and adherence on sleep in children with asthma.

Design: A case-crossover analysis examining within-subject differences in controller use between time points with and without sleep problems, based on survey data from 3 time points (baseline, 6 months, and 1 year) of a randomized trial.

Setting: Families were recruited from 2 area practice networks; all assessments were completed by parents online.

Participants: Children with asthma, aged 2 to 10 years, as identified by asthma-related medical encounters and prescription fills.

Main exposures: Parent report of asthma controller medication use (yes/no), type (inhaled corticosteroid or leukotriene inhibitor), and adherence (daily use, nonadherent use, or nonuse).

Main outcome measures: Children's sleep problems, as defined by parent report regarding how often the child had difficulty falling asleep or experienced daytime sleepiness.

Results: The analysis included 482 children; 82.6% and 75.9% completed the 6-month and 1-year follow-up visits, respectively. Sleep problems were common, with 19.4% of parents at baseline reporting frequent problems with the child falling asleep and 12.1% reporting frequent daytime sleepiness. Compared with children who did not use a controller medication, children had a decreased risk of problems falling asleep during periods with daily controller use (odds ratio [OR], 0.34; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.13-0.92), with a trend toward an effect in those with nonadherent use (0.47; 0.20-1.12). Any controller use, regardless of adherence, was also associated with decreased odds of daytime sleepiness (OR, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.51-0.94). When controller class was examined, leukotriene inhibitors were associated with significantly decreased odds of problems falling asleep (OR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.04-0.78), with or without concomitant use of inhaled corticosteroids, but the results for use of inhaled corticosteroids alone were not statistically significant (0.69; 0.32-1.53).

Conclusions: Controller medications appear to be effective in reducing sleep problems in children with asthma, and leukotriene inhibitor medications may be especially effective in this population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Washington / epidemiology


  • Anti-Asthmatic Agents