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Benefits and Risks of Asthma Treatment Questioned

Government guidelines on the treatment of asthma have long recommended inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) therapy as the best treatment for people with persistent forms of the condition.But reports about side effects //of these drugs have led many people -- including parents of asthmatic children -- to question their use. Specifically, ICS has been linked to growth retardation in children, weak bones in children and adults, skin thinning, and eye problems.

Now leading scientists hope to put those fears to rest. Three medical groups -- the American College of Chest Physicians, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, and the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology -- have teamed up to publish a systematic review of the medical evidence on ICS therapy and related side effects. Their conclusion is that the therapy is safe and effective and should remain the gold standard of treatment.

According to the report, published :
?h ICS therapy is not associated with bone thinning in children. ?h ICS therapy is linked to skin thinning and bruising in both adults and children, but the effects are mostly related to dose, length of use, and the gender of the patient. ?h ICS therapy is associated with a decrease in childhood growth rates, but the effect is small and studies suggest it may not persist with long-term therapy. Adult height of asthmatic children treated with ICS therapy is not substantially different from adult height attained by nonasthmatic children.

Conclusions could not be drawn on the effect of ICS therapy on bone thinning in adults or eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma due to a lack of sufficient medical evidence.

Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, say, ?§After a systematic and accurate review of the proven risks, we can say with confidence that the majority of evidence supports the conclusion that the clinical effectiveness of ICS therapy decidedly outweighs t he proven risks.?¨


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