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Asthma Drugs Help Airways but Affect Children’s Growth

Asthma is usually treated with inhaled corticosteroids to reduce airway inflammation and reactivity and help people breathe better. They are undeniably the first line treatment for this common and often dangerous condition. But two new reviews of randomized controlled trials show that drugs such as budesonide, fluticasone and mometasone are associated with growth retardation in children. During the first year of treatment, average annual growth rate was approximately one-half centimeter less in children on corticosteroid inhalers than in children on placebo or non-steroidal medications. This decrease is less noticeable in subsequent years, and the researchers conclude that it is negligible compared to the very important benefits of treating asthma effectively.

[The Cochrane Library, online July 17, 2014]

It is certainly important for both children and adults with asthma to be treated with effective medications. Not everyone with asthma responds equally well to inhaled corticosteroids, however. Those who find that their symptoms of coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing are not controlled well on such a regimen may want to consult Dr. David Hahn’s book, A Cure for Asthma? What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You–and Why (published by People’s Pharmacy Press). In it, Dr. Hahn puts forth the evidence that some apparent cases of asthma are actually reactions to a smoldering lung infection. Long-term antibiotic treatment may clear the infection and the symptoms, so that inhaled corticosteroids are no longer needed every day.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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