, Volume 69, Issue 18, pp 2541–2576

Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis in Infants and Children

Efficacy and Safety of Second-Generation Antihistamines and the Leukotriene Receptor Antagonist Montelukast


  • Hanna Phan
    • College of PharmacyThe University of Arizona
  • Matthew L. Moeller
    • The James L. Winkle College of PharmacyUniversity of Cincinnati
  • Milap C. Nahata
    • Colleges of Pharmacy and MedicineThe Ohio State University
    • OSU Medical Center Department of PharmacyThe Ohio State University
Review Article

DOI: 10.2165/9884960-000000000-00000

Cite this article as:
Phan, H., Moeller, M.L. & Nahata, M.C. Drugs (2009) 69: 2541. doi:10.2165/9884960-000000000-00000


Allergic rhinitis (AR) affects a large percentage of paediatric patients. With the wide array of available agents, it has become a challenge to choose the most appropriate treatment for patients. Second-generation anti-histamines have become increasingly popular because of their comparable efficacy and lower incidence of adverse effects relative to their first-generation counterparts, and the safety and efficacy of this drug class are established in the adult population. Data on the use of the second-generation anti-histamines oral cetirizine, levocetirizine, loratadine, desloratadine and fexofenadine, and the leukotriene receptor antagonist montelukast as well as azelastine nasal spray in infants and children are evaluated in this review.

These agents have been found to be relatively safe and effective in reducing symptoms associated with AR in children. Alternative dosage forms such as liquids or oral disintegrating tablets are available for most agents, allowing ease of administration to most young children and infants; however, limited data are available regarding use in infants for most agents, except desloratadine, cetirizine and montelukast. Unlike their predecessors, such as astemizole and terfenadine, the newer second-generation antihistamines and montelukast appear to be well tolerated, with absence of cardiotoxicities. Comparative studies are limited to cetirizine versus ketotifen, oxatomide and/or montelukast. Although second-generation antihistamines and montelukast are deemed relatively safe for use in paediatric patients, there are some noteworthy drug interactions to consider when selecting an agent. Given the wide variety of available agents for treatment of AR in paediatric patients, the safety and efficacy data available for specific age groups, type of AR, dosage form availability and cost should be considered when selecting treatment for AR in infants and children.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2009