Background: Immunotherapy (IT) is the only causal treatment for allergic subjects recognized to be effective and to offer long-lasting efficacy. The noninjective routes, aimed at improving the safety of the treatment, have been validated as effective in adults, but documentation of their safety in children is still poor. The aim of the present survey study was to assess the safety of sublingual immunotherapy in pediatric patients, by evaluating a large population.
Methods: A total of 268 children (aged 2–15 years), receiving sublingual IT for respiratory allergy, were followed-up over a period ranging from 3 months to 7 years (mean 34 months). The side-effects possibly due to the treatment were recorded on a proper diary card; self-assessment of the clinical outcome was also evaluated.
Results: About 96000 doses of extract were globally administered. Local side-effects were of no clinical relevance. Eight side-effects were reported (3% of patients; 0.083 per 1000 doses). Seven systemic side-effects (abdominal pain, conjunctival itching, and rhinitis) were mild and required no treatment. One case of urticaria was well controlled with oral antihistamines. No life-threatening event occurred. The clinical outcome was judged excellent or good by 80% of the patients.
Conclusions: The sublingual IT herein investigated appeared to be well tolerated and safe in pediatric patients. The risk/benefit ratio was therefore favorable.