In a double blind crossover trial, we compared sodium cromoglycate, ipratropium bromide, and water in 23 asthmatic children less than 2 years old (mean age 11.8 months). Each child received nebulised solutions containing 20 mg of sodium cromoglycate, 250 micrograms of ipratropium bromide, or 2 ml water three times a day for three two month periods. Daily symptom scores did not show significant differences between the treatments but parental preferences indicated that both sodium cromoglycate and ipratropium bromide were superior to placebo. Sodium cromoglycate was prophylactic and was more likely to help the older patients. Ipratropium bromide produced an immediate clinical benefit and the response was not age dependent. We were unable to pick responders from non-responders on the basis of lung function tests performed on a routine outpatient basis. Both ipratropium bromide and sodium cromoglycate help some but not all asthmatic children aged less than 2 years.
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