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Daniel More, MD

Some Inhaled Corticosteroids Used To Treat Childhood Asthma May Affect Final Adult Height

By December 20, 2012

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Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children, and most children need a daily controller therapy in order to treat their asthma. The preferred controller therapy is an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS). Side effects of ICS in children include short-term suppression of vertical growth, although it has always been assumed that the final adult height was not affected by these medications. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicines, however, shows that children using a medium-dose of inhaled budesonide had a final adult height that was about a half-inch shorter than children who weren't given an ICS. This may lead to more parents being wary of their child taking an ICS -- although the bigger danger is that uncontrolled asthma can lead to emergency room visits, hospitalizations, loss of lung function, missed school/work days, inability to perform daily activities, and even death. Phyisicians will need to weigh the benefit of ICS for the control of asthma, versus using other non-ICS medications, compared to the risk of side effects, which now may include permanent effects on final adult height.

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