Subcutaneous venom immunotherapy in children: Efficacy and safety

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2018 Apr;120(4):424-428. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2018.01.015.


Background: Venom immunotherapy (VIT) is safe in children, although adverse effects can occur.

Objective: To document adverse effects and to determine re-sting reactions and the efficacy of VIT in childhood.

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed data from children who had taken VIT from 2002 through 2015. These patients were queried by telephone to determine reactions after re-stings during or after VIT.

Results: In total 107 children with a systemic reaction after Hymenoptera sting and with proved immunoglobulin E-mediated sensitization were enrolled. Participants had a median age of 10.0 years (7.2-12.4 years) at the beginning of immunotherapy. Fifty-two participants had allergic reactions during VIT; 40 of these reactions were local (37.4%), 5 were large local (4.7%), and 7 were systemic (6.5%). Of the 52 patients with adverse reactions, most reactions were local (n = 40, 89%) and were observed mainly in dose-increase periods (n = 25, 60%; P < .001). Although local reactions were more frequently seen with Vespula treatment (P = .047), systemic reactions were common with Apis treatment (P = .031). Sixty-eight patients (63.5%) were queried for re-sting, 33 (48.5%) had a re-sting and 24 (72.7%) of these 33 patients developed allergic reactions. The reactions were local (n = 19), large local (n = 1), and systemic (n = 4). Risk analysis for local and systemic reactions during VIT showed pre-existing asthma as an independent risk factor (odds ratio 4.1, 95% confidence interval 1.3-12.7, P = .016).

Conclusion: In children, VIT appears to be safe and protective against severe reactions after re-sting. However, pre-existing asthma was identified as a risk factor for systemic and large local reactions during VIT in children.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma
  • Bee Venoms / immunology*
  • Child
  • Desensitization, Immunologic* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hymenoptera*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / prevention & control*
  • Insect Bites and Stings*
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wasp Venoms / immunology*


  • Bee Venoms
  • Wasp Venoms