Asthma, the most common chronic childhood illness in the United States, is a breathing disease in which the airways are inflamed, making breathing difficult. Studies in older children and adults show that inhaled corticosteroids are the most effective long-term control medicine for persistent asthma. These medicines reduce airway swelling and help prevent asthma symptoms. Pediatricians and researchers have wondered for years whether it can also be used to prevent the disease if it's given early enough. A new study supported by NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) shows that, while they can reduce breathing problems in pre-school-aged children at high risk for asthma, inhaled corticosteroids don't prevent the development of persistent asthma.
Some parents worry that children who use inhaled corticosteroids may not grow as tall as other children. A very small difference in height and growth was found in children who were using inhaled corticosteroids compared to children not using them. 3 And one study showed a very small difference in height [about in. ( cm) ] in adults who used inhaled corticosteroids as children compared to adults who did not use inhaled corticosteroids. 4 But the use of inhaled corticosteroids has important health benefits for children who have asthma. If you are worried about the effects of asthma medicines on your child, talk with your doctor.