Inhalers May Limit Growth in Children, Study Says

Glucocorticoid inhalers used by children to control their asthma may actually inhibit their growth, says a study published on September 4, 2012.

Prior research had shown that the drugs did slow the growth rate, but scientists thought that growth returned to normal after the first few years of treatment. The new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that growth was inhibited into adulthood.

The study consisted of 943 children ages 5 to 13 years old from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Participants were given inhalants budesonide (brand name Pulmicort), neodocromil (no longer available in the U.S.) and placebo, over a period of four to six years. All children treated with albuterol, a bronchodilator.

By the age of 25, participants in the budenoside group were on average a half of an inch shorter than those who took the placebo. And those who took a higher dose of the drug showed a greater decrease in their height.

Dr. H. William Kelly, the lead author of the study said that this is the “first long-term prospective study that shows that you don’t outgrow it (side effects of glucocorticoid inhalers).” But he cautioned against discontinuing their use by saying “starting smaller, younger kids on a lower does may avoid much of the effect.’

For all your family’s concerns over asthma treatment, contact Dr. Arthur M. Lubitz, allergist/immunologist, @mdallergy.com, tel#212-247-7447. He’ll provide the treatment that’s right for you.