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Children's Health

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Ibuprofen May Aid Cystic Fibrosis Lungs

Taking Ibuprofen May Slow Lung Function Decline in Children With Cystic Fibrosis
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 30, 2007 -- Ibuprofen, a drug that fights inflammation, may help the lungs of children with cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis is the most common fatal genetic disease in the U.S., notes the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The NIH explains that cystic fibrosis causes the body to produce thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs, leads to infection, and blocks the pancreas, which stops digestive enzymes from reaching the intestine where they are needed to digest food.

A new study shows that among children and teens with cystic fibrosis, lung function declined more slowly in those taking ibuprofen.

Data came from more than 10,000 U.S. children and teens aged 6-17 with cystic fibrosis.

The group included 1,365 children who took ibuprofen for at least three years. The rest of the children didn't report regular ibuprofen use.

The patients were followed for seven years. During that time, lung function declined for all of the patients, but the rate of decline was 29% slower for patients taking ibuprofen.

Ibuprofen can cause gastrointestinal bleeding. In the cystic fibrosis study, such problems were rare but more common among patients taking ibuprofen.

The benefits of taking ibuprofen outweighed the risks of gastrointestinal bleeding, write the researchers, who included Michael Konstan, MD, of Cleveland's Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

Ibuprofen is sold without prescription. But Konstan and colleagues don't make specific recommendations about what dose (if any) might be best for patients with cystic fibrosis.

Such decisions should be made by consulting with a doctor familiar with the patient's case -- not on a do-it-yourself basis.

The study appears in tomorrow's edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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