Inhalers 'can stunt children's growth'
ASTHMA inhalers can stunt the growth of children, research has shown.
During the first year of treatment, the remedies cut growth rates by about half-a-centimetre, said scientists.
But they and other experts stressed that slight loss of growth was a small price to pay for protection against potentially lethal asthma attacks.
Evidence also suggested that the effect could be minimised by using lower doses of the drugs.
The research focused on corticosteroid inhalers, which are prescribed as first-line treatments for both adults and children with persistent asthma.
Writing in the Cochrane Library collection of publications, the team assessed effects of the drugs on children's growth.
Lead author Dr Linjie Zhang, from the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil, said: "The evidence we reviewed suggests that children treated daily with inhaled corticosteroids may grow approximately half-a-centimetre less during the first year of treatment.
"But this effect is less pronounced in subsequent years, is not cumulative and seems minor compared to the known benefits of the drugs for controlling asthma and ensuring full lung growth."
Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at the charity Asthma Research UK, said: "Half-a-centimetre in growth is a small price to pay for medicine which may save your child's life."