Asthma inhalers may stunt children’s growth

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New research has confirmed that children who use corticosteroid inhalers to prevent asthma attacks may experience stunted growth.

The study included 8000 young people and indicated that growth rates were limited by approximately half a centimetre among those aged under 18, during the first year of treatment.

Healthcare campaigners and doctors are urging children and parent to continue the use of these inhalers as they call the stunted growth a small price to pay for the protection against asthma attacks which could be lethal.

The study was published by the Cochrane Collection think tank and stated that the effects of the inhaler may be reduced if smaller doses are used. Most scientists who have studied these inhalers are of the opinion that normal growth resumes after the initial few years of treatment.

The lead author of the report from the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil, Dr Linjie Zhang, said that during subsequent years, the growth reduction is less pronounced and it is no cumulative. Dr Zhang stated that the growth issue is a minor problem when compared to the benefits gained from the drugs.

The director of research and policy at Asthma Research UK, Samantha Walker, said that people who suffer from asthma have voiced their fears about the side effects of asthma medication for a long time. She stated that the good news is that the study indicates a minor impact from the corticosteroids which are inhaled, and parents should not stop their children from taking the lifesaving medications.

A consultant physician in allergy at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in London, Dr Glenis Scadding, said that parents should continue giving their children these medications as it reduces the death rate of asthma sufferers which is still quite high.

Image Credit: Ana Maria Dacol

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