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Allergy Nasal Spray Might Affect Children's Growth

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Skoner says both Vancenase and Nasonex are good medications. "These drugs are the best out there to treat [allergies]. Any child who needs them should get them."

Whether effects on childhood growth seen in some studies will result in reduced adult height is uncertain. Some studies suggest that if children's growth is delayed, they will eventually attain their adult height. "We don't know if they will of if they won't," Schenkel says.

A spokesman for the company that manufactures both drugs says more study is needed. "While the study results are statistically significant, their clinical relevance is unknown," Ronald J. Asinari, a spokesperson for Schering-Plough Corp., tells WebMD. "Schering-Plough believes that the clinical significance of these results can only be determined with further investigation. The company stresses that Vancenase is safe and effective when used properly under a physician's direction." Both of the studies received funding from Schering-Plough, and the Vancenase study was also supported by Glaxo-Wellcome.

The message to parents, Schenkel says, is: "Use caution. ... Since Nasonex is the safest steroid out there, it should be the drug of choice in treating children, without the worry of growth suppression."

Vital Information:

  • Allergic rhinitis is a common disease that affects up to 10% of children and 20% of adolescents and adults.
  • Two studies evaluated Nasonex and Vancenase, two intranasal steroid sprays used to treat allergies, and found both were effective, but Vancenase was found to slightly suppress childhood growth.
  • Researchers caution that the growth suppression is very small, does not affect all children, and is not cause to take children off the drug if they are doing well on it.
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