Child asthma deaths linked to poor prescribing

Professor Peter van Asperen, from the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital, said in an MJA commentary that despite cautions against the use of corticosteroids plus long-acting beta-agonists (ICS-LABAs) in children, a majority of those dying from asthma in NSW were on the combination.

Examination of deaths from asthma in children since 2004 in the NSW Child Death Review Team Annual Report 2013, showed 15 out of 20 who died were on a steroid-LABA combination.

Professor van Asperen describes a kind of perfect storm where children (under 17) with persistent, poorly controlled disease may have been put at risk of severe exacerbation by ICS-LABAs, which are also known to reduce the efficacy of short-acting beta-agonists required during wheezing episodes, with the possibility of genetic risks also coming into play.

“[This] might therefore explain the increase in asthma deaths seen in recent years,” he wrote.

“It might also