Inhaled steroids used to treat small children with asthma could stunt their growth.
Several researchers from the Sheffield Children’s Hospital in Sheffield and hospitals in Cambridge and Leicester reported that the consensus dosage of steroids like beclomethasone dipropionate (BDP) of 400-800 ug daily for toddlers between 3 and 5 have been shown to suppress the pituitary adrenal glands.
Besides citing several studies showing that steroids at those levels retard growth, the doctors said that they have collectively seen at least 10 children with growth and adrenal gland suppression due to steroids.
In one case, a child of 6 on steroids had only grown 1.25 cm per year for two years. Once the drug dosage was halved, he began catch up growing at a rate of 8 cm a year until he was 10.
The researchers warned that individual sensitivity to all types of steroid therapy varies considerably and some children seems to absorb them better than others. “Nevertheless, recommendations on escalation of dose according to peak flow measurements may lead to unsupervised over treatment, and the simultaneous introduction of intranasal steroids may accentuate growth suppression,” they said.