Clinical Immunology Review Series: An approach to the patient with allergy in childhood


  • Series Originator: Edward Kaminski Series Editor: Stephen Jolles

J. O'B. Hourihane, Paediatrics and Child Health, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.


Allergic conditions are common, with asthma being the most common chronic illness in childhood in most developed countries. Some 80% of asthmatic children are sensitized to aeroallergens, usually indoor animal dander and house dust mite. Some 80% of asthmatics also have rhinitis. Rhinitis and eczema receive less medical attention than asthma, but they can cause long-term morbidity and have substantial direct and indirect economic costs. Food allergy and anaphylaxis are increasingly recognised and are usually easily diagnosed and managed. Clinicians can use in vivo and in vitro measurements of allergen-specific immunoglobulin E to better time reintroduction of implicated foods. Specific parenteral and sublingual immunotherapy is widely practiced internationally but is uncommon in the UK. It may alter the natural history of aeroallergen reactive diseases in the upper and lower airways. Specific oral tolerance induction represents the current cutting edge in clinical allergy research. It remands resource intensive at present and cannot be adopted into routine clinical practice at this time.