Children under two who use certain asthma medicine could be stunted in later life, a preliminary report suggests.
Doctor Antti Saari, from the University of Eastern Finland, said his team analysed data from 12,000 children to find those who used inhaled corticosteroids long-term showed signs of stunted growth, the BBC reports.
The researchers looked at information on the height of the children's parents and data on the hcildren's weight and asthma medicine in order to calculate expected height and growth.
They found an association which, if permanent, could lead to around 3cm of decreased adult height.
Experts said they would likely still be affected in adulthood, The Mirror reports.
"It is important that doctors think twice whether these steroids are needed or not in this age group," Doctor Saari said.
Corticosteroids are found in brown inhalers and are used to manage the "wheezing" symptoms of asthma.
Doctor Samantha Walker, from Asthma UK, said: “The study confirms other research suggesting ICS used in infancy can interfere with bone growth, although the impact is relatively minor.
“No parent should therefore stop their children taking these lifesaving medicines, because a slight reduction in growth is a small price to pay for medicines which may save your child’s life.”