Under-the-tongue immunotherapy and cats

Dr Emilio Alvarez-Cuesta of Hospital Ramon y Cajal, Madrid, reports that tolerance to cats can be built up in children by using sub-lingual immunotherapy (SLIT), in which gradually increasing amounts of the offending allergen, starting with tiny amounts that don't cause a reaction, are placed under the tongue, whence it is absorbed into the system.

The researchers randomly assigned 50 allergic children to get daily SLIT drops or inactive placebo drops, for a year. The participants were then ‘challenged’ by spending up to 90 minutes exposed to allergens in a room in which a cat was housed.

Of the 33 participants who completed the SLIT course, 62% showed a marked reduction in symptoms compared to their symptoms before treatment. They also showed improved peak expiratory flow values during exposure, and a reduction in skin test reactions to standardized cat extract. No significant changes were seen in the group that got placebo drops. There were no reports of adverse reactions.

First published September 2008

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