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Steroids to treat asthma: How safe are they?
Date:2/23/2011

This release is available in French.

Children experiencing an asthma attack who are treated with a short burst of oral steroids may have a transient depression of immune response according to a new study led by Universit de Montral. These findings, published in this month's issue of Pediatric Allergy, Immunology and Pulmonology, have implications for asthmatic children who have flare-ups and who may be exposed to new contagious diseases.

"There is no question that the administration of corticosteroids reduces the risk and duration of hospital admission in children with acute asthma remain the most effective treatment for moderate and severe asthma exacerbations," says first author Francine M. Ducharme, a Universit de Montral professor and paediatrician and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center. "However, the safety profile of these medications continues to raise concerns among parents and physicians. New concerns over their possible impact on the immune system stem from rare reports linking or severe chickenpox infections linked with corticosteroid administration."

Reduced immune response to new triggers

Ducharme and colleagues evaluated the immune response of children aged 3 to 17 years, who had arrived at the emergency department (ED) with an asthma attack. All subjects were given immune triggers (known as antigens) and the immune response between those who received corticosteroids versus those who did not were compared.

"Several corticosteroid-treated children had a significantly lower immune response, as measured by the amount of antibody produced, than non-treated kids," says Ducharme.

Reduced immunity only transient

Children enrolled in the study were revaccinated with the antigen five weeks following their initial ED visit. Comparable immune res
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Contact: William Raillant-Clark
w.raillant-clark@umontreal.ca
514-343-7593
University of Montreal
Source:Eurekalert

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