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Is montelukast helpful in managing obstructive sleep apnoea in children with Down syndrome?
  1. Doireann Pereira1,
  2. Irwin Gill1,2
  1. 1Department of Paediatrics, Children's Health Ireland at Temple Street, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2School of Medicine, University College Dublin, National University of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Doireann Pereira, Children's Health Ireland at Temple Street, Dublin, Ireland; doireann.pereira{at}

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Clinical scenario

A 6-year-old boy with Down syndrome (DS) has presented to the community paediatric clinic with a history consistent with obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). Clinical examination reveals that he demonstrates mouth breathing and that his tonsils are enlarged. His parents are keen to explore non-surgical options. Should montelukast be commenced?

Structured clinical question

In school-aged children with DS (patient), does montelukast (intervention) reduce the severity of OSA (outcome)?

Search strategy

A comprehensive literature review was carried out using PubMed and Web of Science in August 2022. The following terms were used:

Title/Abstract: [leukotriene*]OR[montelukast]OR[anti-inflammatory]OR[anti inflammatory]


Title/Abstract:[Trisomy 21]OR[Down syndrome]or[syndrome]


Title/Abstract:[sleep disordered breathing]OR[sleep related breathing disorder]OR[obstructive sleep apnea/apnoea]

This search revealed 93 results. Titles and abstracts were reviewed. 91 articles were removed for the following reasons: unrelated to the clinical question (n=63), non-systematic review articles (n=18), expert opinion or guidelines (n=2), protocol only for a systematic review (n=1) and excluded children with DS (n=7). Two studies were ultimately included and summarised in table 1. A review of the bibliographies revealed two further potential studies, but these were removed after full-text review due to lack of relevance to the clinical question.

View this table:
Table 1

Summary of studies


OSA is more prevalent, severe and associated with poorer medical and neurocognitive outcomes in children with DS. Adenotonsillectomy is the primary …

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  • Contributors Both authors (DP and IG) were involved in all stages of this article.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.