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The tall and the short: Repainting the landscape about the growth effects of inhaled and intranasal corticosteroids

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Earlier 1-year growth studies that used older inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) formulations consistently showed that ICS, but not intranasal corticosteroids (INCS), produced a small ∼1 cm/y growth effect that appeared to be nonprogressive and noncumulative. Studies that lasted for >1 year showed that such treatment during childhood did not affect final adult height. Collectively, these studies led to the beliefs that (1) the small short-term effect on growth is unimportant, (2) there is no long-term harm, and (3) any small risk is easily outweighed by the benefit. This led to the cavalier use of ICS and INCS in children and approval of some INCS for over-the-counter sales for children as young as 2 years of age.


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More recent studies, with improved scientific designs, have challenged and overturned the earlier beliefs. Moreover, some of the newer ICS formulations have negative, robust growth studies (designed per FDA guidance and detected no growth effect).


This review focused on the new evidence and how it will change the way that we use ICS and INCS in children with allergy and asthma in both clinical practice and research, with a renewed focus on safety. There also are significant implications for future iterations of asthma guidelines. The goal was to identify the proper amount of new concern about ICS and INCS, not to generate undue steroid “phobia.”
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Keywords: Adrenal; children; corticosteroid; growth; height; safety; steroid

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Division of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication date: May 1, 2016

This article was made available online on March 1, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "The tall and the short: Repainting the landscape about the growth effects of inhaled and intranasal corticosteroids".

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma and by having the potential to directly impact the quality of patient care. AAP welcomes the submission of original works including peer-reviewed original research and clinical trial results. Additionally, as the official journal of the Eastern Allergy Conference (EAC), AAP will publish content from EAC poster sessions as well as review articles derived from EAC lectures.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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