Slow Bone Growth in Kids with Asthma

Asthmatic children with low vitamin D taking corticosteroids may have slow bone mineral accretion

(RxWiki News) Steroids are used to treat a variety of conditions, including asthma. Bone loss is one of the many side effects associated with steroids. Low vitamin D levels have also been linked to bone loss.

Oral steroids may slow down bone mineral growth in asthmatic boys with low levels of vitamin D.

"Ask your child's doctor about the side effects of asthma drugs."

Sze Man Tse, MDCM, and fellow researchers from the Childhood Asthma Management Program Research Group wanted to see if children with asthma and lower vitamin D levels were more vulnerable to the negative effects of steroids on bone mineral density.

Research has shown that steroids contribute to bone loss, a sign or precursor of osteoporosis.

Dr. Tse and colleagues found that increasing the use of oral steroids may slow bone growth in asthmatic boys who already have low levels of vitamin D.

After taking two courses of oral steroids per year, asthmatic boys with low vitamin D had bone growth twice as slow as those with normal vitamin D levels.

According to the authors, these results show that vitamin D levels significantly changed the effects of steroids on bone growth in boys with asthma.

More research is needed to see if vitamin D supplements can help children with poorly controlled asthma to maintain bone health, they concluded.

For their study, the researchers measured bone mineral accretion (bone growth) in 780 children, 5 to 12 years of age with mild-to-moderate asthma.

The research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Center for Research Resources.

Study co-author H. William Kelly, PharmD, has worked for GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Merck.

Co-author Augusto Litonjua, MD, MPH, has received support from the National Institutes of Health and receives royalties from UpToDate, Inc.

Kelan Tantisira, MD, MPH, also has received support from the National Institutes of Health.

The study was published May 18 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Review Date: 
July 24, 2012