Asthma Medications May Not be as Effective for Overweight Children with Asthma

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Research from the 2012 AAAAI Annual Meeting suggests that increasing body mass index can lead to decreasing response to medication.

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“Chronic inflammation, as seen in obese patients, is thought to interfere with the body’s response to corticosteroids, leading to a higher corticosteroid requirement in patients with asthma,” said Dr. Hauk

Being overweight may affect how someone responds to his or her asthma medication. At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), researchers presented the results of a study that saw a weaker response to a corticosteroid medication in children with asthma who had a higher body mass index (BMI).

Pia Hauk, MD, and colleagues from National Jewish Health in Denver, CO, studied 61 children with asthma between the ages of two and 18. Each child was evaluated according to his or her BMI, daily inhaled corticosteroid dose and cellular response to the corticosteroid.

“Both blood and airway cells were cultured in the presence of corticosteroids, a medication used to treat asthma. Then we studied expression of a specific gene that mediates the response to the medication,” explained Dr. Hauk.

Children who were five years and older were also given a spirometry test to measure the amount of air forced out of their lungs. Based on BMI, 56% of the children in the sample were of normal weight, 27% were overweight and 24% were considered obese. Of the total sample, 56 children used inhaled corticosteroids.

The results showed a decreased cellular response to the corticosteroid with increasing BMI, which was linked with a higher daily inhaled corticosteroid requirement.

“Chronic inflammation, as seen in obese patients, is thought to interfere with the body’s response to corticosteroids, leading to a higher corticosteroid requirement in patients with asthma,” said Dr. Hauk. “More studies are needed to find out if the response to the medication might improve if obese children with asthma lose weight.”

The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has nearly 6,500 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.

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Editorial notes:

  •     This study was presented during the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) on March 2-6 in Orlando. However, it does not necessarily reflect the policies or the opinions of the AAAAI.
  •     A link to all abstracts presented at the Annual Meeting is available at http://www.annualmeeting.aaaai.org

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