More evidence that inhaled steroids carry the same risks as the oral kind. New research shows that children treated with the inhaled corticosteroid beclomethasone grow at a slower rate than those given a placebo or salmeterol.

Growth retardation is a common side effect of oral steroids, but the medical profession has always maintained that inhaled steroids don’t carry this risk. However, in these new studies, conducted on 240 9 year olds, children were randomly given either beclomethasone, salmeterol or placebo for one year. The results show that children given beclomethasone had grown 3.96 cm, compared with 5.04 cm for placebo and 5.4 cm for children given salmeterol (N Engl J Med, 1997; 337: 1659-65).

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