One in 10 children using a salbutamol inhaler to treat asthma may have a gene mutation with stops the medication from preventing attacks, research has found.
Salbutamol, known by the brand name Ventolin or as the ‘blue’ inhaler, may be ineffective for 100,000 children with a gene mutation called Arg16.
Researchers from the University of Dundee and Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that the gene change made children 30% more likely to suffer asthma attacks that cannot be controlled by the inhaler. The more they used salbutamol, the less effective it became.
Experts stressed that parents should not panic and children should carry on taking salbutamol until more research is carried out. In the future, it may be possible to detect the gene change through a simple saliva test.
Professor Somnath Mukhopadhyay, from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, who took part in the research, said that poorly controlled asthma is a major problem for children, necessitating frequent visits to doctors and hospitals and time off school.