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Inhaled Steroids Safe & Effective for Children with Asthma

A 5-year, 8-center study by "Childhood Asthma Management Program" (CAMP) has indicated that inhaled steroids are safe and effective for the long-term treatment of children with mild to moderate asthma. "Although asthma experts around the world have recognized the effectiveness of inhaled corticosteroids in treating asthma, their long term effects in children were not clear, and questions have been raised about their possible effects on growth," said Dr. Claude Lenfant. "CAMP confirms their effectiveness while providing reassuring evidence about their safety."

"We hope these results will convince more physicians, and parents as well, that treating children with mild to moderate asthma with inhaled steroids will result in better asthma control and improved quality of life, " he added.

The only side effect from the inhaled corticosteroids was a slight, but temporary, reduction in growth rate. In the first year of the study, the average increase in height in the children treated with was about 3/8 of an inch less than that of the other children. However, after the first year and throughout the remaining 4 years of the study, the children grew at the identical rate as the other children.

"The NHLBI's 1991 "Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma," with their emphasis on inflammation, rather than bronchospasm, as the underlying cause of asthma, marked the beginning of a new approach to treating asthma. The Guidelines recommended anti-inflammatory medications for long-term asthma control in people with frequent asthma symptoms, although data on their long term effects in children were limited. Said Lenfant, " CAMP provides scientific evidence regarding the long term effectiveness and safety of inhaled corticosteroids for children. Physicians, other health care professionals, and parents should feel comfortable using them to help children with mild to moderate asthma participate fully in childhood activities."

Ano ther study published in October 12, 2000 issue of NEJM, which followed children with asthma into adulthood, found that the children with asthma who received long-term treatment with inhaled steroids attained normal adult height.

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