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Asthma Drug Keeps Kids From Missing School

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THURSDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- In young children with sporadic, recurring asthma attacks, treatment with the drug montelukast (Singulair) reduces the number of unscheduled medical visits, absences from school or child care, and the number of days parents need to take off work to care for a child.

So concluded researchers at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, who tracked the health of 202 asthmatic children, aged 2 to 14.

The study was funded by the Australian branch of pharmaceutical company Merck, which makes Singulair.

For one year, parents gave their children either montelukast or a placebo when needed.

The group of children who received montelukast had a total of 163 unscheduled medical visits during that year, compared to 228 for the group that received the placebo.

In children given montelukast, "symptoms were reduced by 14 percent, nights awakened by 8.6 percent, days off from school or child care by 37 percent and parent time off from work by 33 percent," study author Dr. Colin F. Robertson, of the department of respiratory medicine, said in a prepared statement.

There were no significant reductions in specialist care, hospitalizations, duration of asthma episodes, or the use of beta-agonist drugs or prednisolone.

The study is in the latest issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Intermittent asthma accounts for 75 percent of attacks in children with asthma, according to the researchers.

"Acute episodes of asthma in young children place a significant burden on health-care resources," Robertson said. "Admission to the hospital for asthma in children aged 0 to 4 years is five times more common, and for those aged 5 to 14 years, twice as common as for adults who have asthma."

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, Feb. 15, 2007
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