Anti-inflammatory treatment for recurrent wheezing in the first five years of life
Medications identified for the treatment of recurrent wheezing in preschool children by the Expert Panel Report of the NHLBI Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma include inhaled corticosteroids, chromones, theophylline, and leukotriene pathway modifiers. However, these various agents differ in their mechanism, extent of action on the airway inflammatory process, and degree of clinical efficacy. Inhaled corticosteroids can control symptoms in many young children with even severe persistent wheezing, but data on their long-term safety when administered in preschool-age children are scarce. There is some information on the uninterrupted use of inhaled corticosteroids in school-age children and the absence of an adverse effect on ultimate adult height. Despite laboratory evidence of adrenal suppression in some studies, few pediatric cases of clinical adrenal insufficiency have been reported. Low-dose inhaled corticosteroid (<400 mcg/day for beclomethasone), which is adequate for controlling mild persistent symptoms, is generally safe. Chromones have a remarkable safety profile, but they are most effective for symptoms of mild severity. Promising data have been published on the efficacy and safety of leukotriene pathway modifiers when used in young children with persistent symptoms. It is uncertain whether early introduction and long-term administration of inhaled corticosteroids prevent development of irreversible airway obstruction. Nevertheless, they may be especially useful for patients with moderate to severe disease in whom other agents (chromones or leukotriene pathway modifiers) will most likely fail to control symptoms. PediatrPulmonol.2003; 35:241-252. (C) 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.