Kids' Allergy Shots Cut Health Care Costs
Allergen Immunotherapy Reduces Medications, Doctor Visits, Study Finds
Jan. 14, 2010 -- Allergy shots are no fun for kids. However, for children
with hay fever (or allergic rhinitis), the shots are likely to reduce
medications and doctor visits, according to a new study.
Allergic rhinitis is the third most common chronic disease in American
children, with up to 40% of kids affected. If allergic rhinitis is not properly
treated, it can impact a child’s quality of life and lead to a host of health
issues. Allergic rhinitis is responsible for 2 million missed school days each
year and $2.3 million in direct health care expenses for children under age
In the study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology, researchers compared health care expenses for a group of 2,771
children younger than 18 who received allergy shots, or allergen immunotherapy,
with 11,010 children who did not get the shots. Researchers looked at records
for a 10-year period beginning in 1997. All the children in the study had newly
diagnosed allergic rhinitis. The median health care costs per patient during an
18-month period for the children with the shots was $3,247, compared to $4,872
for the non-shot group. Pharmacy costs were $1,108 for the shot group, compared
to $1,316 for the non-shot group.
The difference in health care costs was evident within three months and
lasted throughout the decade-long study period.
“This is great news, not only for families who will experience fewer
out-of-pocket expenses for allergy medications, but also for the ever
increasing national health care crisis," study co-author Linda S. Cox, MD,
immediate past chair of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and
Immunology’s Immunotherapy Diagnostic Committee, says in a news release.
“Because of the serious medical and economic consequences of childhood allergic
rhinitis, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment need to be our