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Immunotherapy safe and effective against allergies in kids under 5

IANS May 01, 2024

Immunotherapy is a safe and effective treatment against allergies in children under 5 years of age, doctors said on 25 April.

Allergy is a global burden and allergies in children are a significant health concern that can affect their well-being and quality of life. The most common are allergic rhinitis, and conjunctivitis, with strong allergic sensitisation to house dust mites and pollen.

Said Dr Sarita Sharma, Senior Consultant, Paediatrician and allergy and asthma specialist, that changes in the lifestyle, environment, and increasing pollution are contributing major factors to the increasing incidence of allergies over the past few decades.

"In children, symptoms can manifest as nasal symptoms (sneezing, running nose, nasal itching, and congestion) also known as allergic rhinitis, wheezing (asthma and hyper-reactive airway disease), cough, skin symptoms (dermatitis, urticaria), food allergy," she added.

While most people are under the impression that antihistamine drugs, inhalers and steroids are the only treatment available for allergies in children, immunotherapy is another medically proven choice for treatment in children above the age of 5 years.

"Immunotherapy is the only disease-modifying agent available if instituted in the correct dose, duration, and disease," said Dr Dhiren Gupta, Senior Paediatrician.

"Immunotherapy improves symptoms, and quality of life, decreases the use of medicines, and has long-lasting symptom relief. In sublingual immunotherapy, the allergen preparation is administered under the tongue. The US FDA has approved certain allergens for immunotherapy like dust mite, grass, ragweed, etc," Dr Sharma said.

However, the doctors noted that it's important to consult with an allergist to determine if immunotherapy is suitable for your child and also the risks and benefits associated with it.

"Immunotherapy should be instituted early before irreversible changes happen in the airway. It’s not 100 per cent curative. The average duration is 3 years. The response depends on the type of allergy and route of immunotherapy," Dr Gupta said, calling for more studies based on the Indian population.

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