Study: allergy shots little use to young asthmatics
January 29, 1997
Web posted at: 8:15 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Jeff Levine
BALTIMORE (CNN) -- For asthmatics such as 7-year-old James
Childress, simply breathing can be a challenge.
Traditionally, doctors have treated children like James with
a combination of allergy shots and anti-asthma drugs.
The shots work against allergy symptoms, but new research
published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine
suggests they may be unnecessary for asthma.
"I think it's fair to say they didn't help," said Dr.
Franklin Adkinson Jr., who led the research team at Johns
Hopkins University School of Medicine.
"Certainly, we couldn't measure any effectiveness, any
clinical benefit from them."
The Johns Hopkins researchers gave 60 youngsters placebo
shots while 61 others received injections designed to protect
them against allergies to several substances.
The 121 children in the study were moderate to severe
asthmatics with a variety of allergies. The bottom line:
There was no difference between those who got the shots and
those who didn't.
"We were unable to demonstrate any effect of allergen
injections on the course of the asthma over a period of 30
months," Adkinson said.
Adkinson said the children studied were more cooperative than
most in taking their medicine, and conceded shots may benefit
patients who are younger and have mild asthma.
Allergy shots have been around for nearly a century, and the
idea that they don't help asthmatics may come as a surprise
to some doctors.
"It doesn't agree with previous studies, and I would hesitate
to change our approach," said Dr. Michael Kaliner of the
Washington Hospital Center.
About one in 20 adults suffer from the shortness of breath
caused by periodic attacks of asthma. The disease is far more
common in children -- about one in 10 have it -- and many
outgrow it. Attacks are often sparked by an allergic reaction
to pollen, dust, animal fur, feathers or other substances.
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