Impact of inhaled corticosteroids on growth in children with asthma: systematic review and meta-analysis

Yoon Kong Loke, Patricia Blanco, Menaka Thavarajah, Andrew M. Wilson

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Background: Long-term inhaled corticosteroids (ICS) may reduce growth velocity and final height of children with asthma. We aimed to evaluate the association between ICS use of >12 months and growth. Methods: We initially searched MEDLINE and EMBASE in July 2013, followed by a PubMed search updated to December 2014. We selected RCTs and controlled observational studies of ICS use in patients with asthma. We conducted random effects meta-analysis of mean differences in growth velocity (cm/year) or final height (cm) between groups. Heterogeneity was assessed using the I2 statistic. Results: We found 23 relevant studies (twenty RCTs and three observational studies) after screening 1882 hits. Meta-analysis of 16 RCTs showed that ICS use significantly reduced growth velocity at one year follow-up (mean difference -0.48 cm/year (95% CI -0.66 to -0.29)). There was evidence of a dose-response effect in three RCTs. Final adult height showed a mean reduction of -1.20 cm (95% CI -1.90 cm to -0.50 cm) with budesonide versus placebo in a high quality RCT. Meta-analysis of two lower quality observational studies revealed uncertainty in the association between ICS use and final adult height, pooled mean difference -0.85 cm (95% CI -3.35 to 1.65). Conclusion: Use of ICS for >12 months in children with asthma has a limited impact on annual growth velocity. In ICS users, there is a slight reduction of about a centimeter in final adult height, which when interpreted in the context of average adult height in England (175 cm for men and 161 cm for women), represents a 0.7% reduction compared to non-ICS users.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0133428
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2015

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