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Asthma Drug Soothes RSV-Related Cough

Singulair May Help Babies With Common Lung Condition Breathe Easier
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The results appear in the Feb. 1 issue of American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Babies who were treated with the drug were symptom-free on six (22%) of the 28 days and nights compared with only one (4%) among those who received the placebo. Daytime coughing was also significantly reduced among the treated infants.

In addition, a worsening of symptoms requiring withdrawal from the study or hospitalization occurred in only four of the infants on Singulair versus 10 of those on the placebo, and these exacerbations were significantly delayed in the treated infants.

Experts say these findings clear the way for further studies into the long-term effectiveness of these types of drugs on RSV-related wheeze and cough, as well as new ways of fighting RSV itself.

Robert Welliver, MD, professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious diseases at the Women's and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, says this is only the first attempt to use this class of drugs to treat RSV-related complications. And he suspects there might be a much broader application for them.

"In this study, they only looked at treating infants after they left the hospital, but this might be treating the wrong end of the illness," says Welliver. "What if you take high-risk kids and put them on these drugs to prevent hospitalization? There is a high percentage of kids with [RSV] who had been in the doctor's office a day or two before they were hospitalized."

Giving these children a leukotriene-inhibitor early on, Welliver says, might prevent some of the inflammation from occurring in the first place.

Joe Spahn, MD, a pediatrician at National Jewish Medical and Research Center, agrees that much more study is needed.

This study found only a modest benefit from using Singulair, but Spahn says RSV-related wheeze involves a very complicated set of variables that no one really fully understands yet.

He says some people think using inhaled steroids, which are also frequently used to prevent asthma attacks, might work in treating this condition. But Spahn says there are just as many studies that say they work as say they don't.

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