For kids who may never outgrow bee sting allergies: Shots reduce risk

August 11, 2004

Although the majority of children outgrow allergies to bee, wasp and other insect stings, almost one in five who had allergic reactions when stung as children - especially those who had serious allergic reactions -- are likely to have reactions later in life, according to a study by Johns Hopkins scientists.

"Contrary to popular wisdom, a great number of children do not outgrow allergic reactions to insect stings," says David Golden, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and lead author of a report on the study appearing in the Aug. 12, 2004 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. "The good news is that for children with moderate to severe reactions, allergy shots will lower the risk of serious reactions to stings even 10 to 20 years after treatment is stopped."

Allergy shots, or venom immunotherapy, give purified bee or other insect venom in small doses that build up over time and are recommended for children who have moderate or severe reactions, including dizziness, breathing difficulty and lowered blood pressure. There is little need for the therapy in children with milder reactions, such as minor swelling and hives, said Golden.

Between 1978 and 1985, the researchers diagnosed allergic reaction to insect stings in 1,033 children, of whom 356 subsequently received venom immunotherapy. To determine how many children outgrow their allergies to insect stings, the researchers collected follow-up information on more than 500 of these children, of whom 40 percent had received stings in the six to 32 years after their first reaction.

The researchers conducted a survey of these patients by telephone and by mail between 1997 and 2000. Patients were asked to describe their reactions and were provided with a standard list of questions about symptoms, the length of the reaction, and how the reaction was treated. Mild reactions affected only the skin and involved hives and minor swelling. Moderate reactions included skin reactions, but also throat and chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, dizziness and low blood pressure. Severe reactions included skin reactions, but also marked difficulty breathing, severe dizziness and marked low blood pressure or unconsciousness.

The researchers found that moderate and severe reactions occurred less frequently in adults who had received venom immunotherapy as children (3 percent) than in those who had not (17 percent). Patients with a history of moderate or severe reactions had a higher rate of reaction if they had not been treated (32 percent) than if they had received venom immunotherapy (5 percent). The average duration of venom immunotherapy was three and a half years. This report describes the longest-lasting effects of allergen immunotherapy yet observed, said Golden.

Other authors of the report are Lawrence Lichtenstein, M.D., Ph.D., Robert Hamilton, Ph.D., Philip Norman, M.D., and Anne Kagey-Sobotka, Ph.D., all from Johns Hopkins. The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.
-end-
On the Web:

http://content.nejm.org/
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/allergy/

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Related Allergies Articles from Brightsurf:

With or without allergies, outcomes similar for hospitalized patients with COVID-19
A new study being presented at this year's virtual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting examines hospital data to determine if those with allergic conditions had more severe COVID-related disease than those without.

Links between parents' and children's asthma and allergies
New research published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy found that, compared with a father's traits related to allergies and asthma, a mother's traits create a higher risk that a child will develop these same traits in early childhood.

New insight into allergies could improve diagnosis and treatment
A study led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital point to a potential marker of these conditions and a new therapeutic strategy.

Got seasonal allergies? Beetles could help
Allergies caused by the common ragweed, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, impact millions, and in Europe alone, around 13.5 million people suffer with symptoms, resulting in 7.4 billion Euros worth of health costs per year, according to the research.

Drinking green tea may help with food allergies
Drinking green tea increases Flavonifractor plautii in the gut, which in turn suppresses an allergic food immune response.

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Search for the source of antibodies would help treat allergies
Researchers of Sechenov University together with their colleagues from Russia and Austria summarised everything known about cells producing group E antibodies.

Changes in onset of spring linked to more allergies across the US
Human-induced climate change is disrupting nature's calendar, including when plants bloom and the spring season starts, and new research from the University of School of Public Health suggests we're increasingly paying the price for it in the form of seasonal allergies.

Prenatal allergies prompt sexual changes in offspring
A single allergic reaction during pregnancy prompts sexual-development changes in the brains of offspring that last a lifetime, new research suggests.

Food allergies: A research update
Families impacted by food allergies will need psychosocial support as they try promising new therapies that enable them to ingest a food allergen daily or wear a patch that administers a controlled dose of that food allergen.

Read More: Allergies News and Allergies Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.