Kids' Allergy Shots Cut Health Care Costs

Allergen Immunotherapy Reduces Medications, Doctor Visits, Study Finds

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on January 14, 2010
From the WebMD Archives

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 12.

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 priority.”

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Hankin, C., Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, January 2010; vol 104: pp 79-85.

News release, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

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