Watch Out Dust Bunnies

Allergy shots help asthmatic children better control their symptoms

(RxWiki News) Since spring-cleaning is not around for a while, new research may have found a way to help keep the dust from bothering your child's lungs.

Children who have three years of allergy shots can have long-term control of their asthma, a recent study has found.

"Talk to an allergist about shots for your child."

While there is no complete cure for allergies in children, researchers looked at how effective three- versus five-years of allergy shots, called specific immunotherapy, affects children with asthma.

Researchers, led by Iwona Stelmach, MD, PhD, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Allergy at the Medical University of Lodz in Poland, studied 90 children with asthma, all who were sensitive to house dust mites.

Dust mites are a major cause for asthma development in children, which thrive where there are animals and people.

Children react to proteins inside mites' bodies and their droppings around everyday household furniture.

A third of the children in the study were recruited by having three years of shots. Another 30 had five years of the therapy, and the last third did not have any shots.

The treatment helps asthma symptoms while preventing it and the development of other allergies at the same time.

The children attended an enrollment visit in 2007 and had three follow-up visits after the end of their immunotherapy treatment.

Researchers aimed to lower children's required inhaler dosage and the number of times they had asthma attacks by the end of the study.

Researchers found that 50 percent of children with asthma due to dust mites were completely free of it after three years of treatment.

At that point, controller medications were greatly reduced or not needed at all.

“The recommended duration of immunotherapy for long-term effectiveness has been three to five years,” said Dr. Stelmach in a press release.

“Our research shows that three years is an adequate duration for the treatment of childhood asthma associated with house dust mites. An additional two years adds no clinical benefit.”

After the end of therapy, the inhaler dosage among kids with five years worth of allergy shots was significantly higher than those who only had the shots for three years.

But three years after the end of therapy, there was no difference between the two groups.

James Sublett, MD, chair of the ACAAI Indoor Environment Committee, said in a press release that the long-term benefits of the shots work for both children and adults.

Plus it can "reduce total healthcare costs by 33 to 41 percent.”

“It has long been observed that the effectiveness of allergy shots continue long after treatment has been completed,” Dr. Sublett said.

The authors note some limitations with the study, including that patients who didn't have immunotherapy used a lower dosage of their inhaler compared to the other groups, probably because of milder symptoms they had.

Also, it was not randomized whether patients with the therapy would be treated for three years versus five years.

The authors do not report any conflicts of interest.

A grant from the Medical University of Lodz funded the study, which was published in the October issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

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Review Date: 
October 3, 2012