Oral medication may be as effective as allergy shots commonly used to treat children with severe environmental allergies and asthma — offering a beneficial needle-free way to protect kids, according to a Johns Hopkins Children's Center review of existing scientific evidence.
The review, published in the journal Pediatrics, analyzed nearly three dozen clinical trials and found that both under-the-tongue drops and injections work equally well in alleviating the symptoms of allergic rhinitis and asthma.
In addition to being better tolerated by children who fear needles, the oral treatment can be given at home, sparing the family a visit to the doctor's office.
"Our findings suggest the needle-free approach is a reasonable way to provide much-needed relief to millions of children who suffer from asthma or seasonal allergies," said lead researcher Julia Kim, M.D., a pediatric research fellow at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.
The new review comes on the heels of another Hopkins study, which showed that oral drops provide a safe and effective alternative for adult allergy sufferers, as well.
Allergy shots, containing tiny amounts of proteins found in allergens such as dust mites and pollen, are a standard treatment for allergies. Under-the-tongue drops are not approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are only offered off label by some physicians. But the needle-free approach is widely available in Europe.
Kim said the new findings should prompt a second look at oral drops as a treatment option.
More than 6 million children in the United States suffer from asthma, while allergic rhinitis affects 40 percent of American kids.
The study was funded, in part, by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
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