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Health News Archive 371 - Children's Asthma
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Magnesium Supplements Reduce Children's Asthma

A new study has found that children and adolescents with asthma who are given magnesium supplements experience less symptoms, use less medication, and experience a number of other beneficial effects.

In the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study, researchers investigated the long-term effect of oral magnesium supplementation on clinical symptoms, bronchial reactivity, lung function and allergen-induced skin responses in children and adolescents (ages 7 to 19 years) with moderate persistent asthma.

The study included 37 patients. The subjects were randomized into two groups with 18 subjects receiving 300 mg per day magnesium and 19 subjects receiving a placebo for 2 months. Both patient groups received the inhaled asthma medications fluticasone (daily) and salbutamol (as needed).  After two months, the researchers found that the children taking the magnesium supplements had, on average, 28 percent fewer days of severe asthma. The magnesium supplements were also associated with a reduction in the use of salbutamol of almost 40 percent.

The researchers also used a methacholine challenge test to assess airway responsiveness in the subjects. In this test, the patient inhales an aerosol of one or more concentrations of methacholine, which constricts the lungs. If the forced expiratory volume decreases 20 percent from baseline in one second, the patient’s airway responsiveness is considered poor.  After two months of magnesium supplementation, it was found that almost double the concentration of methacholine was needed to induce the 20 percent fall in forced expiratory volume compared to baseline. No significant difference in methacholine concentrations was observed for the placebo group.

The skin responses to recognized antigens also decreased in patients treated with magnesium.

Reference: Gontijo-Amaral C, Ribeiro MA, Gontijo LS, Condino-Neto A, Ribeiro JD. Oral magnesium supplementation in asthmatic children: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jun 21; [Epub ahead of print].

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