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Alternative Way to Treat Childhood Asthma?

Study Suggests Role for Inhaled Steroids as Rescue Medication

Always Discuss Medication Changes With a Doctor First

“This is some important and landmark work,” says Harold J. Farber, MD, an associate professor of the pediatric pulmonary section at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children Hospital in Houston and author of Control Your Child's Asthma.

“Starting the steroid beclomethasone along with albuterol at onset of symptoms gave almost as good of a benefit in prevention as daily inhaled steroid therapy,” he says.

But “for it to work, you have to start it early at first sign of an attack,” he says. “If we wait for severe problems, it’s too little too late.”

This advice is only good for “folks with mild asthma, not folks with moderate to severe asthma,” he says. “If you have moderate to severe asthma, the use of inhaled corticosteroid every day is better than as-needed use.”

“Always talk with your doctor before making any changes to medication,” Farber says.

“When used as a rescue modality, inhaled steroids (beclomethasone) do a reasonable job at controlling symptoms without the side effects of reduced growth,” says William Checkley, MD, assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore. “This step-down approach reduces the need to do puffs twice a day.”

But “there have to be more studies to support these findings,” he says. Checkley wrote an editorial accompanying the study.

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