Trends in medication use for asthma among children

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Purpose of review

To review recent studies of changing medication use for asthma among children.

Recent findings

Although many countries monitor mortality and hospitalizations related to asthma, there is less surveillance of medication use for asthma. Since the late 1990s, and in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, there has been a change in the medications used to prevent asthma in childhood, with an increase in inhaled corticosteroids, and a decrease in mast cell stabilizers. Prescriptions for montelukast have increased four-fold in the United Kingdom for children since 2000, with similar increases in the United States and in Australia. There has been a trend in some countries to increased use of fixed dose combined long-acting β-agonist/inhaled corticosteroid products; in Australia and the United Kingdom, fixed dose combinations now account for the majority of preparations containing inhaled steroids prescribed to children with asthma.


Studies in a number of countries have shown marked secular trends in asthma medications for children since the late 1990s. Research needs to employ serial cross-sectional studies in the same population to capture changing medication use and to be precise about types of medication within a class. The changes in many countries indicate a greater concordance with guidelines.

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