Inhalers containing corticosteroid drugs prescribed as a first line of treatment in adults and children with chronic asthma may suppress growth in children, according to recent scientific studies.
The researchers who conducted the review and published it in The Cochrane Library journal found that children’s growth slowed in the first year of treatment, although the effects were minimized by using lower doses.
Yet their potential effect on children’s growth is a source of worry for parents and doctors – a factor which prompted the Cochrane reviewers to analyze the evidence more closely.
The evidence gathered by the experts suggested that children treated daily with inhaled corticosteroids may grow approximately half a centimeter less during the first year of treatment however it becomes less pronounced in subsequent years. The study finds cumulative benefits of the drug are more than the harmful affects.
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), some 235 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, a chronic disease which inflames and narrows the air passages of the lungs. The disease is common among children.
“However, the effect seems… small and non-cumulative and many may consider this a risk worth taking compared to the alternative, which is poorly controlled and therefore potentially life threatening asthma.”