Background: sublingual-swallow immunotherapy has been recognized as safe and effective in adults. Different treatment schedules have been proposed and used, but the current experience in children is insufficient. We carried out a study to evaluate the clinical efficacy and the safety in children allergic to grass pollen, following different schedules.
Methods: an open study was performed with 3 parallel treated groups and a control group, each including 12 children suffering from rhinoconjunctivitis due to grass pollen. The patients underwent either a preseasonal treatment or a pre-coseasonal treatment during the grass pollen season. The analysis of the clinical outcome was based on the number of days with symptoms and/or drug consumption in the pollen peak month.
Results: significantly less days with symptoms and/or drug intake in all of the groups submitted to SLIT in comparison to the control group were found (p < 0.0001). Among the three schedules used, the best clinical results were obtained with the two pre-coseasonal treatments (p < 0.0001), with a preference for the schedule with the lowest maintenance dose according to the drug intake (p = 0.0267). Two patients belonging to the coseasonal schedule with the highest maintenance dose interrupted the treatment because of systemic mild side effects.
Conclusions: our data suggests that in children with rhinoconjunctivitis to grass pollen, SLIT is effective and well tolerated and that the pre-coseasonal schedule should be preferred to the preseasonal treatment. According to our data, the best maintenance dose during the pollen season for children, both for tolerance and clinical outcome, corresponds to 0.4 microg of the grass major allergen Group 5 administered three times a week.