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Study finds steroids don’t prevent asthma


3 Star

Study finds steroids don’t prevent asthma

Our Review Summary

This article reported on the results of two recent studies that found that inhaled corticosteroid treatment of infants or pre-school aged children did not have any affect on future asthma severity. It did a good job of informing readers of this observation and was careful to include mention of drug company funding of the studies but could have done a better job of summarizing information for consumers about treatment costs, benefits that might be obtained during treatment, potential harms of the treatment as well as other approaches to asthma management in small children.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

Although both drugs mentioned in this article are currently available as prescription medications, the article did not include estimates for their cost.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


This article did a good job of pointing out that treatment of either pre-school aged children or one-month old infants with symptoms of asthma did not result in any benefit in terms of asthma severity as compared with children who were given a placebo. However, it did mention the observation from the study of pre-school aged, that during active treatment, inhaled corticosteroid did result in fewer and less-severe symptoms than those receiving the placebo without providing any sort of quantification of this benefit. Nonetheless we give a satisfactory score here.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

This article did not include mention of any side effects or harms associated with the use of inhaled corticosteroids in young children.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


This article reported on two recent studies that examined the impact of inhaled corticosteroid treatment in treatment of symptoms of asthma and prevention of chronic asthma in young children. It explained that the children treated were compared with children who received a placebo and included reference to where the studies were published so that a reader could track down more information if they were interested.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


This article did not disease monger but rather reported on two studies examining the ability for inhaled corticosteroid treatment to provide long term benefit to young children with asthma. It neither inflated the seriousness of asthma nor exaggerated the benefit that could be obtained from corticosteroid treatment.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


This article reported on results from two studies that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine and included a quote from an editorial (by authors having no connection with either study) in the same issue of this journal that commented on the results of these studies. Comments from other authorities on the treatment of childhood asthma might have been useful. Nonetheless we give this a satisfactory score.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

This article failed to mention other approaches to management or treatment of asthmatic symptoms in young children.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The article mentioned that inhaled steroids are often used to help control symptoms of asthma with the underlying assumption that these medications are readily available. However, it failed to note that the medications used in the two studies described do not currently have FDA approval for use in the age groups that were studied. As of 3/26/2006 Flovent received FDA approval for use in children 4-11, while the study reported on use in children 2-3 years of age. The second study involved infants one month of age given Pulmicort, which is currently FDA approved for use in children one year of age and older.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


This article reported on the results from two recent studies in young children. Rather than being a new or novel treatment, the studies were careful examinations of what this treatment can and cannot do for young children.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Not Applicable

We can’t be sure if the story relied solely or largely on a news release.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory


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