Asthma Drug ‘Budesonide’ Stunts Overall Growth For Life, Study Finds

The asthma class of drugs known as budesonide and referred to in brand name form as Rhinocort and Pulmicort can cut half an inch off a child’s height, following them into adulthood according to a study released on Monday. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study found that the stunting effects, while permanent, do not effect future growth.

The drug is very effective in stopping serious asthma attacks and is currently used by upwards of 6 million US children.

Test subjects were part of an original study of budesonide conducted nearly 10 years ago which found the drug to be safe and highly effective. Interestingly enough, doctors looking over that study also found that children taking the asthma drug were on average half an inch shorter than children taking advantage of other asthma medicines.

Robert Strunk of Washington University in St. Louis, one of the study’s authors, notes:

“This was surprising because in previous studies, we found that the slower growth would be temporary, not affecting adult height.”

By revisiting 943 of the original study’s children, researchers were able to determine that the effects of the stunted childhood growth lasted into adulthood. That means children who are one half of an inch shorter as children will remain one half of an inch shorter as adults.

The study specifically examined children who received 400 micrograms of the drug. Studies since that time have found that the drugs dose can still be effective at half that dose level.

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