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Study to determine best treatment for children with mild Asthma

Washington University In St Louis : 19 November, 2002  (Technical Article)
Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis is participating in a national study to determine which medication should be used first to treat children with mild asthma.
The Pediatric Asthma Controller Trial will evaluate three popular medications to find out how well they control mild asthma. The medications are Singulair, the Advair Discus inhaler and the Flovent Discus inhaler. The year-long, multicenter study is funded by a $25 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

“No studies have been done that allow us to give definitive advice to parents about the most effective asthma medication for their child,” said Robert C. Strunk, M.D., the Donald Strominger Professor of Pediatrics and principal investigator of the St. Louis study site. “This study will give us the opportunity to know the risks and benefits of these three widely used drugs.”

Five medical centers nationwide will enroll 300 children between 6 and 14 years of age. In the St. Louis area, researchers will recruit 60 children, who will be evaluated at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

To qualify for the study, children can be taking an asthma medicine (such as Singulair or Flovent) regularly or using only albuterol to combat their symptoms.

To eliminate the possibility of distorting the results, children, parents and researchers will not know which children are getting which medications. All children in the study will take a capsule each night and use one puff from a discus inhaler each morning and each night. Patients can continue using albuterol.

Each child’s progress will be monitored for one year through seven or eight visits that will include physical examinations, blood tests, breathing tests and allergy skin tests. They also will receive three follow-up phone calls. Medical care received in the study and asthma medications are free. Patients will receive $50 for each visit and $15 for each phone call.

The study will determine the percentage of days without asthma for each drug during the 12-month treatment period.

Asthma, the most common chronic childhood disease, is caused by inflammation and swelling of the small airways in the lungs. During an attack the airways become swollen and congested with mucus and muscle spasms around the airways block the normal flow of air. This causes patients to cough and wheeze and have difficulty breathing.

“We really want to control the disease long-term so that children have the fewest symptoms and the best of being able to play and go to school.” Strunk said.
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