Objective: To investigate the influence of asthma on growth in Swedish children during a period when inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) have been first-line therapy for persistent asthma.
Study design: We analyzed the height of conscripts with and without asthma in the year they turned 18 years old, using Swedish military conscription records from 1983, 1986, 1993, and 1996, and assessed exposure to ICS using prescription records over the same period.
Result: The mean height for conscripts without asthma was 179.3 cm (SD = 6.6 cm, n = 164,503) and for conscripts with asthma 178.6 cm (SD = 6.6 cm, n = 8,531, P <.001). The severity of asthma had a negative correlation with height in all study populations (P <.001 in each year tested). Since 1985, increasing numbers of children with asthma have been treated with ICS in Sweden. Sales of ICS for males from birth to age 19 years increased from 68,000 daily doses in 1983 to more than 3, 000,000 in 1995-1996. During this period, there was no statistically significant change in the height difference between conscripts with and without asthma.
Conclusion: The introduction of inhaled steroids in Sweden, where budesonide is the predominant medication, has not changed the mean difference in heights between Swedish conscripts with and without asthma.