Growth of asthmatic children is slower during than before treatment with inhaled glucocorticoids

Acta Paediatr. 1997 Feb;86(2):138-42. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1997.tb08854.x.


Reports on the influence of inhaled glucocorticoids on growth have been controversial. We studied the growth of prepubertal asthmatic children prior to and during glucocorticoid therapy. We collected retrospectively the notes of 201 asthmatic children aged 1-11 years receiving inhaled beclomethasone dipropionate or budesonide. We calculated their height and height velocity standard deviation scores (HSDS and HVSDS, respectively) before the treatment and up to 5 years during the treatment and compared those with the growth of healthy peers. The dose of the medication was calculated and the severity of asthma was assessed. The asthmatic children grew similarly to their healthy peers before treatment with inhaled glucocorticoids: the mean HSDS was +0.02 and the mean HVSDS +0.01 for boys and -0.16 and +0.13 for girls, respectively. Growth retardation took place soon after the start of the treatment, the most profound decrease in the growth velocity (the change in the mean HVSDS from +0.05 to -0.88) occurring during the first year of treatment. The growth-retarding effect of inhaled glucocorticoids was not dose dependent. In the covariance analysis the increasing severity of asthma had a significant interaction with repeated measurements, showing more growth retardation along with more severe asthma, especially during long-term treatment. Asthma per se does not impair growth, but inhaled glucocorticoids may do so. Careful monitoring of the growth of all asthmatic children receiving inhaled glucocorticoids is necessary because the growth-retarding effect of the medication is not dose dependent. Individual sensitivity might explain the differences seen in the growth patterns of children receiving inhaled glucocorticoids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / physiopathology*
  • Beclomethasone / administration & dosage*
  • Beclomethasone / adverse effects*
  • Budesonide
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Glucocorticoids / adverse effects*
  • Growth / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pregnenediones / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnenediones / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Pregnenediones
  • Budesonide
  • Beclomethasone