Study affirms propranolol efficacy

August 10, 2011

Results of a new study affirm that the beta-blocker propranolol shrinks potentially disfiguring infantile hemangiomas in young children, MedPage Today reports.

Sydney - Results of a new study affirm that the beta-blocker propranolol shrinks potentially disfiguring infantile hemangiomas in young children, MedPage Today reports.

Researchers from Sydney Children’s Hospital randomized 40 children, ages 11 weeks to 5 years, to a six-month course of 2 mg/kg of oral propranolol or placebo divided into three doses each day. All the children had infantile hemangiomas deep under the skin, or located in sites such as the tip of the nose or around the eye. The children had either presented too late for corticosteroid therapy or had not responded to therapy.

Investigators found that the propranolol-treated growths steadily shrank to reach an average 60 percent of their initial size at 24 months. Placebo-treated tumors grew for the first half of the trial, then shrank for a final 14.1 percent volume reduction at 24 months. Redness and elevation of the tumors also decreased significantly more in the propranolol group.

Researchers reported no significant hypertension, hypoglycemia or bradycardia among the participants.

Despite the small sample size, the study’s results may be “sufficient to justify the use of propranolol as the first-line option for potentially disfiguring or complicated” cases, investigators wrote, adding that further studies are needed to determine optimal treatment duration.

The study appears in the August issue of Pediatrics.