Common asthma inhalers which are used by hundreds of thousands of children stunt growth by around half a centimetre, a major review has found.

Adults who were prescribed common corticosteroids while growing up are likely to be shorter than they might have been because of the effect.

Data compiled from dozens of trials, involving nearly 9,000 youngsters, found that inhalers suppress normal growth rates by around 0.5cm in the first year that they are taken, before the impact tails off in subsequent years.

Candian and Brazilian researchers said the stunted growth rate was concerning and advised doctors to prescribe the lowest dose possible. But they said that inhalers were still beneficial because they prevent fatal asthma attacks.