Researchers from Kuopio University Hospital and University of Eastern Finland found that infants who used inhaled corticosteroids — medications used to treat conditions such as asthma — were too short for their age. This result was more evident in children taking the asthma medicine budesonide for more than six months.
“Previously, the impact of corticosteroids on growth was looked at in older children and was thought to alter growth only temporarily,” Dr. Antti Saari, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “However, studies on inhaled corticosteroid use in infants are practically lacking and thus this has been questioned in the recent study. Our research shows a link between long-term treatment of ICS during infancy and stunted growth at or after the age of 2 in otherwise healthy children.”
For the study, researchers collected and analyzed information on the height, weight and asthma medicine intake of more than 12,000 Finnish children aged 0-24 months.
The group will next focus on assessing the impact of inhaled corticosteroids on growth in older children and observe them for longer time periods.
“According to our research, we could only assess the impact of inhaled corticosteroids on growth in infancy until 2 to 3 years of age. The longitudinal impact of these medications is not clear and we would therefore like to investigate this further,” Saari said.