Background: Fluticasone propionate was introduced in 1993 in the UK as a potentially safer inhaled corticosteroid than those already in use. The efficacy and safety of fluticasone has been established at recommended doses of 200 micrograms/day, but not at higher doses that are often used.
Methods: Growth retardation was observed in six severely asthmatic children after introduction of high-dose fluticasone propionate treatment (dry powder). Assessment of cortisol response was by insulin-induced hypoglycaemia in three cases, by short tetracosactrin test in two, and by low-dose tetracosactrin and 24-hour urinary cortisol/creatinine ratio in one.
Findings: Six children with growth retardation noted after treatment with high-dose fluticasone propionate were found to have adrenal suppression. In one case the growth rate and cortisol response returned to normal 9 months after the fluticasone dose was reduced to 500 micrograms/day.
Interpretation: When high doses of fluticasone propionate are used, growth may be retarded and adrenal suppression may occur.