Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers revealed that a majority of children suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) treated with montelukast, a drug approved for asthma or hay fever, showed significant improvement in respiratory disturbance and adenoid size, according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

A considerable percentage of children who suffer from OSA and undergo tonsillectomies and polypectomies occasionally suffer from postoperative infection, bleeding, and dehydration. Some children experience a reoccurrence of the condition.

According to Dr Aviv Goldbart, a researcher in BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences, "Our goal is to find noninvasive treatments for OSA. We are seeking a nonsurgical treatment that will be used instead of tonsillectomies and polypectomies in children, and as a replacement for continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines for adults."

The study was tested in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled fashion in which 23 children were given placebos, and 23 children were given montelukast. After a 12-week treatment with daily oral doses, the children who received montelukast experienced reduced severity of OSA. These same 23 children also showed significant improvement in respiratory disturbance, adenoid size, and children’s symptoms. The obstructive apnea index was decreased by over 50% in 65% of treated children.