Chickenpox Risk for Asthmatics Taking Steroids Minimal

Inhaled steroids are safe for asthma patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) There have been recent incidences of chickenpox outbreaks when children with asthma go to the emergency room and are given a new steroid. A new study recognizes there are small risks for the development of severe chickenpox.

If during this short period of immune suppression the asthmatics were exposed to chickenpox and had not gotten the chickenpox vaccine, they may go on to develop chickenpox.

"Make sure your asthmatic child has their chickenpox vaccine."

First author Francine M. Ducharme, a pediatrician and researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center, reports that children receiving a different steroid than they were accustomed to did have lower immune responses, but the responses were lowered for only a short while.

Before prescribing oral corticosteroids in the emergency room, it appears prudent for doctors to always ask patients about recent exposure to chickenpox. 

Children with asthma who have not had chickenpox definitely need to get the vaccine, hopefully before their next asthma attack.

The Study

  • Ducharme and colleagues evaluated the immune response of children aged 3 to 17 years, who had arrived at the emergency department (ED) with an asthma attack
  • All subjects were given immune triggers (known as antigens) and the immune response between those who received corticosteroids versus those who did not were compared
  • Ducharme observed several corticosteroid-treated children had a significantly lower immune response, as measured by the amount of antibody produced, than non-treated kids
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Review Date: 
April 24, 2011
Last Updated:
May 2, 2011