Nasal Steroid Use

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a front-page story this morning with a headline (“Study indicates use of nasal steroids can stunt growth in children”) that seemed rather alarming, and a story of a child’s life-threatening condition that sounded awfully scary. Both the headline and the story are much more sensational than the findings of the study on which they’re reporting.

Spray

Here are some points, and some perspective, to consider:

  • Current practices for use of inhaled & nasal steroids follow established guidelines.
  • This study will certainly cause those guidelines to be re-evaluated, and this issue to be studied further.
  • The average difference in growth measured by the study, .43 centimeters, is about .16 inches. That’s statistically significant, but not a functional difference. (And surely not the kind of difference you imagine when you see the words “stunt growth.”)
  • The science is clear that inhaled & nasal steroids have shown significant benefits, including prevention of long-term asthma complications.
  • Parents should not stop these medications without a detailed conversation with your child’s provider. If you have questions or concerns, we’re happy to schedule an appointment to review the pros and cons for your individual cases and needs.
  • One final, and very important, note: the article refers to long-term, unmonitored use of over-the-counter nasal sprays such as Nasacort. Parents should not start giving medications like these to children without discussing them with us first.
  • And, while we’re on the subject of long-term use of over-the counter meds… Please let us know if you believe your child needs any over-the-counter medication for more than two weeks at a time, so we can discuss the problem and make the best possible assessment for care.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, just give us a call in the office anytime.

Dr. Springer, a shareholder in the practice, is the Medical Director of Adoption Health Services of Western Pennsylvania.