New Study Finds Children Under Two Who Use Asthma Inhalers Could Face Stunted Growth

3 October 2015

Asthma medications could stunt growth

Children who are treated for asthma before they reach two years old may have their growth suppressed by certain medications, according to a new report.

BBC News reports:

Young children given asthma medication before the age of two may not grow to their full height in later life, a preliminary report suggests. The study of 12,000 Finnish infants found that, on average, those who used inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) long-term showed signs of stunted growth.

Inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) are usually given to asthma sufferers via inhalers, and many parents report that they help control the symptoms of asthma. The BBC also reports that experts say this study serves as a reminder that these medicines should be "used with caution" in pre-school children, and that GPs are currently advised to monitor the weight and height of children who are taking asthma medication

I wasn't surprised to hear that inhaled steroids may have serious side-effects and should therefore be used with caution, but I have been surprised, in recent years, by how readily GPs seem to prescribe inhalers to help ease the symptoms of coughs and chest infections.

I never had an inhaler as a child at all but all three of my children have been prescribed them at one time or another when unwell with coughs and colds and I've always wondered if that's strictly necessary. They certainly don't suffer from asthma, so the thought that such drugs might be handed out too easily without regard for the side-effects troubles me.

We'd like to hear your thoughts on this story. Does your child suffer from asthma, and if so do you feel these medications should be prescribed with caution, or do you think the possible side-effects are outweighed by the effectiveness of ICS medications in controlling the symptoms of asthma and reducing attacks? Come and share your views over on our Facebook page.

TOPICS:   Parents


  • Vampira81
    What an irresponsible article. This is a NECESSARY medicine...who cares if it makes children short, if it keeps them alive!!! Lets hope no parents stop giving the inhalers after reading this :(
  • Amylil13
    I completely disagree with the statement suggesting that gps readily give out inhalers my daughter and cousins child both have been prescribed inhalers for asthma (my daughter is 2 so is too young for an official diagnosis) however without these my daughter would struggle to breathe and has had these since being extremely poorly at 5 months old. It took my daughter 4 times to stop breathing... being sent away and told to deal with it and several different gps and paediatric doctors to then prescribe an inhaler! So I don't agree that it is readily available! Or certainly not the case in my area!
  • EmilyBee1984
    My son has had breathing difficulties since the day he was born. At around 2 years old I was fed up of taking him to the doctors with constant coughs and colds (the latest one he had for 18 weeks) so I asked about asthma. They gave me the blue inhaler (salbutamol) to try and it really helped him. As his asthma progressed he started to need stronger meds, and now he is using clenil. One Christmas day he was so overwhelmed and excited he nearly had an asthma attack (the only one he has EVER had thanks to being medicated properly by his GP!!). We managed to calm him down and he was fine. In July 2014 my son had an anaphylaxis attack after eating a boiled sweet lollipop. His asthma effected this attack and he really struggled to breathe and passed out as a result. If his GP hadn't have been on the ball when he was younger and not medicated him, we would have been in all sorts of trouble. So - No is my answer. We shouldn't stop medicating children under primary school age for asthma, just because they are young is doesn't mean they can't have a respiratory illness. If it wasn't for our GP being so open and willing to go out on a limb and trust my instincts as a parent then my son could have had a lot more asthma attacks than he has already!
  • Gizlot
    Having used an inhaler for my son ( he gets a viral wheeze after certain colds) I really wouldn't care if his growth was stunted. At the moment when he was going blue and struggling to breath the last thing on my mind would be oh it might stop him growing. I don't think parents would over use this medication and I don't think doctors over prescribe it. However after 3 hospital admissions because of this I do use it as I feel necessary to help him survive. If he is short as an adult I doubt he would be able to argue that it has affected his life as much as a potentially fatal asthma attack which I refused to medicate would. Every decision has to be made with the knowledge available. This study wouldn't change my mind about how I used his inhaler .
  • Olotty1321
    My daughter was born 10 weeks early and developed asthma and has had a couple of asthma tacks One being very bad one and I think if it wasn't for her pump she wouldn't be hear today so I do not care if it means that she may be a little small than she was meant to be I'm not worried

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