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Asthma and growth--cause for concern? Asthma & growth in Tayside children

Publication Date
  • Ra0421 Public Health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
  • Rj101 Child Health. Child Health Services
  • Medicine


This project aimed to investigate the height and weight of children with asthma in the community. The Tayside Childhood Asthma Project examined medical records of 3143 children drawn from 12 general practices, for details of asthma morbidity and management. Concurrently, but independent from it, the Tayside Growth Study measured heights and weights of children aged 3-5, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 14 years. This paper reports on a cross-sectional analysis of 699 children who were known to be receiving some form of asthma medication during the school years 1990-91 and 1991-92 when a growth measurement was recorded. A standard deviation score (SDS) was calculated from height measurements for this cohort of children and from weight and body mass index (BMI = weight/height2) measurements for 559 of these children. The mean and standard deviation of these SDS values were calculated, and the distribution of the scores plotted. The results showed no difference in height, weight or BMI between the general population and the cohort receiving asthma medication. However, further analysis showed the distribution of height for children with severe asthma receiving high doses of inhaled corticosteroids (mean -0.38, SD 0.95) was significantly different from the general population (mean 0, SD 1). This group of children appeared to be shorter, by as much as 2 cm on average for a 5-year-old boy. In general, children receiving treatment for asthma within the community have a similar distribution of height and weight to normal children. Children receiving high-dose inhaled corticosteroids are shorter than their contemporaries, and deserve long-term follow-up.

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