The effects of beclomethasone dipropionate aerosol (BDA) (400 µg/day) on clinical course, pulmonary function, and pituitary-adrenal function was studied in 34 steroid-dependent asthmatic children. Asthma severity was assessed by daily symptom and medication scores, peak flow measured three times a day, and weekly spirometry. Pituitary-adrenal function was evaluated by diurnal cortisol levels, cortisol responses to intravenous (IV) corticotropin (ACTH), and steroid responses to IV metyrapone. After 12 weeks of BDA therapy, 30 of 34 patients no longer required prednisone. Mean weekly symptom and medication scores and the number of attacks decreased significantly (P < .01). A significant improvement was demonstrated in the patients' peak flow (P < .01), forced expiratory volume in one second, and maximum midexpiratory flow rates (P; < .01). Thirty of the 34 patients initially had abnormal metyrapone responses, 28 had abnormal diurnal cortisol levels, whereas only 14 had abnormal IV ACTH response tests. Although significant improvement was noted in the mean metyrapone and diurnal cortisol tests, only partial recovery of pituitaryadrenal function was observed in 20 patients, complete recovery in 5, and no change in 9. BDA was found to be therapeutically superior to oral steroids in the group of steroid-dependent asthmatic children and produced no serious adverse effects.

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