Insect allergy in children

J Paediatr Child Health. 2013 Sep;49(9):E381-7. doi: 10.1111/jpc.12178. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


Allergic reactions to insect bites and stings are common, and the severity of reactions range from local reaction to anaphylaxis. In children, large local reaction to bites and stings is the most common presentation. Stings from insects of the order Hymenoptera (bees, wasps and ants) are the most common cause of insect anaphylaxis; however, the proportion of insect allergic children who develop anaphylaxis to an insect sting is lower than that of insect allergic adults. History is most important in diagnosing anaphylaxis, as laboratory tests can be unreliable. Venom immunotherapy is effective, where suitable allergen extract is available, but is only warranted in children with systemic reactions to insect venom. Large local reactions are at low risk of progression to anaphylaxis on subsequent stings, and hence, venom immunotherapy is not necessary.

Keywords: anaphylaxis; immunotherapy; insect allergy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaphylaxis / diagnosis
  • Anaphylaxis / epidemiology
  • Anaphylaxis / etiology*
  • Anaphylaxis / therapy
  • Animals
  • Ants
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Bees
  • Child
  • Desensitization, Immunologic
  • Humans
  • Hymenoptera*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / therapy
  • Insect Bites and Stings / complications*
  • Wasps