Did you know that it is possible for children as young as five to have desensitisation treatment to help with allergies to pollen, house dust mites or cat/dog danders?
Professor Fox, a paediatric allergy expert who practises at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Hospital and privately at Allergy London, says that recent advances now mean immunotherapy can be given without injections, making it brilliant for children who dislike needles.
After a skin-prick test to check exactly what your child is allergic to, a tablet or drops of the allergen extract is placed under the tongue. This induces ‘tolerance’ in the immune system to whatever your child is allergic to and, as a result, should reduce the allergic symptoms. Although the method is extremely safe and severe reactions are rare, the first dose is carefully supervised in the clinic but after that it can be taken easily at home.
“Normally you’ll take it every day for a total of three years and, while it is not a cure, there is a good chance that you will be 30% better than you would have been and will need to take less medicine such as antihistamines and nasal sprays,” says Professor Fox.
The benefit of having desensitisation treatment from an early age is that it may also prevent new allergies developing and reduce the chances of getting asthma.
“Food desensitisation is an area of huge interest and we are already treating children for milk and egg allergies and we are involved in research studies into potential peanut desensitisation too,” says Professor Fox.