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A report, published recently in Archives of Disease in Childhood, indicates that asthma and the medications used in its treatment have little effect on the height a child will reach as an adult. In the article, I.J.M. Doull, MD, FRCPCH, said that untreated asthma results in a delay of puberty by approximately 1.3 years, which may explain the apparent growth failure in asthmatic patients.
Currently, inhaled steroids given at usual doses result in growth suppression, according to Dr. Doull. The growth suppressive effects are short-lived, however, and growth reverts to pretreatment levels thereafter. Prepubertal children are more sensitive to the growth-suppressing effect of the drug, Dr. Doull noted.
Children who take conventional doses of inhaled steroids achieve an adult height that is no different from their predicted adult weight, and not unlike that of nonasthmatics. In severe asthmatics, adult height may be decreased. The greatest difference would be about half an inch between severe asthmatics and individuals without asthma, Dr. Doull said.