Asthma Inhalers Can Stunt Child Growth

The headline above comes from a July 18, 2014, article in the International Business Times, and reports on a recent study published in The Cochrane Library, an independent, non-profit research reporting organization. The Cochrane websites explains, “Cochrane is a global independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others, responding to the challenge of making the vast amounts of evidence generated through research useful for informing decisions about health.”

This research, conducted by the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil and University of Montreal in Canada, showed that children who used steroids for asthma had slower growth rates compared to those not using the medications.

An article in the July 17, 2014, Medical New Today reported on the same study and noted that, “Asthma is a chronic lung condition that occurs widely in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 25 million people (about 1 in 12) have asthma. This percentage is much higher in children; around 9.3% of children (6.8 million) are believed to have the condition.”

Lead author of the study, Dr Linjie Zhang, of the Federal University of Rio Grande, Brazil, reported that, “The evidence we reviewed suggests that children treated daily with inhaled corticosteroids may grow approximately half a centimeter less during the first year of treatment.”

Several of the articles reporting on the study quoted medical physicians who said it was a “small price” to pay for using these drugs. Whether the obvious pun was intended or not, the remark reflects a lack of willingness to look into other less drastic options. Most of the articles did make a concession by advising that doses of these medications be kept as low as possible.

“It is interesting to note that research like this which would be of interest to so many parents, was not reported in the United States, a country which allows prescription medication advertisements,” stated Dr. Michael McLean, a chiropractor in Virginia and president of the International Chiropractors Association. “Chiropractors have been helping asthma sufferers for years without exposing patients to the harmful side effects of medications. We can only hope that the truth about these types of drug treatments continues to be disseminated allowing the public to make a more informed choice about their health.”

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