Researchers found that rescue therapy with corticosteroids reduces exacerbations and the risk of side-effects such as growth impairment.
Daily corticosteroid use is thought to be associated with growth impairment. Children with well controlled asthma also find it difficult to adhere to daily treatment.
In the study children were allocated to twice daily beclometasone, an inhaled corticosteroid, or placebo, and rescue treatment with beclometasone or placebo as needed. All children received rescue inhaled salbutamol.
Researchers found that children who received twice daily inhaled corticosteroid, with placebo as rescue, experienced the lowest frequency of exacerbations.
However, children who received only beclometasone as a rescue therapy also saw a reduction in exacerbations, although this was less significant.
Researchers concluded: ‘Our data suggest that inhaled corticosteroids used as rescue together with salbutamol show benefits over rescue salbutamol alone and avoids the growth effects associated with the use of daily inhaled corticosteroids.’