A new study that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that children who use certain types of medication in asthma inhalers may be shorter as adults. Previous to this study, it was thought that kids would “outgrow” that effect. It seems that this is not the case.
Let me make something clear. The results of this study do not mean that you must throw out your child’s asthma inhaler. If you have concerns, you should definitely speak with your child’s pediatrician before making any changes to his or her prescription medications.
In September of 2011, the FDA banned all asthma inhalers that contained the medication Primatene Mist. This had absolutely nothing to do with the recent study regarding medications in asthma inhalers and their effect on growth.
The reason the FDA banned the inhalers that had Primatene Mist was because those inhalers used a drug delivery system that used chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s). The CFC’s can cause harm to the ozone layer, and this prompted the FDA to ban the inhalers that use them.
A recent study was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study included 943 children who ranged in age from 5 to 13. The children were randomly assigned to take daily doses of budesonide, or nedocromil, or a placebo. This lasted for four to six years. All of the children were also treated with albuterol.
Albuterol is a bronchodialator. Budesonide is an inhaled glucocorticoid that is sold under the brand name Pulmicort. Nedrocromil is a nonsteroidal inhalant. It is no longer available in the United States. All the children were treated under the guidelines of the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program.
When the children reached the age of 25, the results showed that the kids who were given budenoside were, on average, about half of an inch shorter than the group of children who took the placebo. The higher a dose of budenoside that the children in the study took, the greater the decrease in their adult height. The study found that nedocromil had no effect on the adult height of the kids in the study.
Overall, what this study shows is that certain types of asthma medication can have an effect on the adult height of the child who uses that particular medication in his or her inhaler. This is the first long-term prospective study that shows that kids don’t “outgrow” the effect that inhalant corticosteroids produce in the growth of pre-pubertal children.
Image by Mark and Allegra on Flickr