Asthma medicine may not be one size fits all

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The symptoms are all too familiar for parents of kids with asthma: coughing, wheezing, and chest tightness.

About 6 million kids in the U.S. have asthma, which may make it hard for them to breathe. Asthma is especially common in African American children. 

The standard treatment for persistent asthma is a low-dose inhaled corticosteroid, and if this does not fully control the symptoms, a long-acting bronchodilator may be added.

However, some studies suggest that African Americans may respond differently to medications for asthma.

Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) wanted to find out if bronchodilators would provide similar help to African Americans with asthma or if increasing the dose of inhaled corticosteroid would be better.

About 6 million kids in the U.S. have asthma, which may make it hard for them to breathe.

NIH recently helped fund two clinical trials, one with African American children and one with African American adolescents and adults.  The results of the study with African American adolescents and adults were similar to those of past studies. More people had improved asthma symptoms with the addition of the bronchodilator than a higher dose of steroids.

The results of the study with African American children were different, though. 

About half of the children in the study had improved asthma control with the bronchodilator. The other half did better with the higher dose of steroids alone. Researchers didn’t find a link between percentage of African ancestry and response to treatment, so it’s unclear why the children responded differently.

More research needs to be done, but these early findings suggest that if African American children do not respond to the first treatment, there may be an equal chance that the alternate treatment could work better. 



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