If you have a child with asthma whose symptoms aren't well managed, you might want to revisit the treatment strategy to be sure it is in sync with his or her needs.

This is because there is growing awareness in the medical community that for some children who are taking inhaled corticosteroids, this medication just isn't doing the trick.

New Questions Exist

An abstract contained findings from the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) was presented at the American Thoracic Society meeting and brought to light the fact that some children with asthma are finding that corticosteroids aren't adequately managing their symptoms, despite the fact that this has been the accepted method of treatment for people of all ages who suffer from this chronic condition.

Steroids and Asthma: Not the Perfect Match?

Further, the research findings revealed that children in the study who took inhaled steroids consistently were 20 percent less likely to say their asthma symptoms were well managed over the course of a year, compared with their counterparts who had similar forms of the condition but were not taking steroids at all. This raises some important questions for steroids and asthma research to attempt to answer over the coming years.

When Symptoms Flare

As part of the CAMP study, participants were prescribed corticosteroids and monitored for a period of time, then released to the care of their own doctors with ongoing follow up to measure changes and medication compliance.

In classifying the health status of the children in the study, the researchers describe those who had "poor asthma control" as reporting the following factors occur in the course of the past week:

  • Asthma symptoms that cause a child to wake up more than once in the seven-day period;
  • Symptoms that prevent participation in normal activities at least twice in that same week
  • Needing a fast-acting relief inhaler more than two days in the same seven-day period.

It is also interesting to note that many of the children whose symptoms didn't seem to be responding well to the steroids didn't even have a severe form of asthma to start with. Most actually had mild or moderate cases of this chronic condition. However, one researcher suggested that these children whose symptoms don't respond well to treatment could go on to develop more serious symptoms when they are older.

Possible Explanations

Researchers say that while the study findings are puzzling, there are several possible scenarios that can explain them. For instance, one hypothesis is that the children who weren't using steroids were outgrowing their symptoms anyway and their conditions had improved with age. In addition, genetic differences could be to blame for how children's conditions respond to the treatment methods.

Other possible explanations include that the children may not have been on the correct dose of the steroids, the steroids needed to be given with other medications, or the type of steroids may actually have not been a good match for the patients. Finally, it is important to look at the fact that this research was conducted before some of the newer corticosteroids become available, and the older options may be less effective than some of the newer choices.

More Research Needed

These findings certainly make the case for conducting further research into the feasibility of inhaled steroids and asthma medications being used together to manage children's symptoms. In addition, it should serve as a reminder to pediatricians and other doctors to follow up with patients to see how their symptoms are responding to the treatment methods being used in order to ensure the best outcomes. Finally, as a parent, you can make note of your child's symptoms and make sure your doctor is aware of any concerns that exist.