OBJECTIVES:

Children with nonsevere obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) benefit from alternative therapeutic interventions such as leukotriene modifiers. We hypothesized that montelukast might improve OSA in children. We tested this hypothesis in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled fashion.

METHODS:

Of 50 possible candidates, we recruited 46 children with polysomnographically diagnosed OSA. In this prospective, double-blind, randomized trial, children received daily oral montelukast at 4 or 5 mg (<6 or >6 years of age, respectively) or placebo for 12 weeks. Polysomnographic assessments, parent questionnaires, and radiographs to assess adenoid size were performed before and after therapy.

RESULTS:

Compared with the 23 children that received placebo, the 23 children that received montelukast showed significant improvements in polysomnographic measures of respiratory disturbance (obstructive apnea index), children's symptoms, and adenoid size. The obstructive apnea index decreased by >50% in 65.2% of treated children. No attrition or side effects occurred.

CONCLUSIONS:

A 12-week treatment with daily, oral montelukast effectively reduced the severity of OSA and the magnitude of the underlying adenoidal hypertrophy in children with nonsevere OSA.

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