There is conflicting evidence of the effectiveness of montelukast in preschool wheeze. A recent Cochrane review focused on its use in viral-induced wheeze; however, such subgroups are unlikely to exist in real life and change with time, recently highlighted in an international consensus report. We have therefore sought to investigate the effectiveness of montelukast in all children with preschool wheeze (viral-induced and multiple-trigger wheeze). The PubMed, Cochrane Library, Ovid Medline and Ovid EMBASE were screened for randomised controlled trials (RCTs), examining the efficacy of montelukast compared with placebo in children with the recurrent preschool wheeze. The primary endpoint examined was frequency of wheezing episodes. Five trials containing 3960 patients with a preschool wheezing disorder were analysed. Meta-analyses of studies of intermittent montelukast showed no benefit in preventing episodes of wheeze (mean difference (MD) 0.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.14 to 0.29; mean for montelukast 2.68 vs placebo 2.54 (p = 0.5)), reducing unscheduled medical attendances (MD −0.13, 95% CI −0.33 to 0.07; mean for montelukast 1.62 vs placebo 1.78 (p = 0.21)) and reducing oral corticosteroids (MD −0.06, 95% CI −0.16 to 0.02; mean for montelukast 0.35 vs placebo 0.36 (p = 0.25)). The pooled results of the continuous regimen showed no significant difference in the number of wheezing episodes between the montelukast and placebo groups (MD −0.40, 95% CI −1.00 to 0.19; mean for montelukast 2.05 vs placebo 2.37 (p = 0.18)). Conclusions: This review highlights that the currently available evidence does not support the use of montelukast in preschool children with recurrent wheeze. We recommend further studies to investigate if a ‘montelukast responder’ phenotype exists, and how these can be easily identified in the clinical setting.What is Known:• Current guidelines recommend montelukast use in preschool children with recurrent wheeze.• A recent Cochrane review has found montelukast to be ineffective at reducing courses of oral corticosteroids for viral-induced wheeze.What is New:• This meta-analysis has examined all children with preschool wheeze and found that montelukast was not effective at preventing wheezing episodes or reducing unscheduled medical attendances.• A specific montelukast responder phenotype may exist, but such patients should be sought in larger multicentre RCTs.
- Recurrent wheeze