HealthDay News — Giving women allergy shots during pregnancy may reduce the risk for allergy in their offspring, according to researchers at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Currently there is no cure for allergies, but immunotherapy consisting of monthly injections for three to five years once a maintenance dose is achieved has been shown to control and sometimes eliminate symptoms.

Jay Lieberman, MD, from Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and colleagues performed a pilot study to examine the correlation between immunotherapy in mothers and allergic disease status in offspring. They surveyed 143 women aged 18 to 48 years who had a physician diagnosis of allergic rhinitis to assess immunotherapy history and presence of allergic disease in their 277 biological children.

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The researchers found that treatment with immunotherapy during pregnancy was not associated with the prevalence of allergic disease in offspring in univariate analysis. However, after controlling for breastfeeding, gender, presence of older siblings and father’s allergic status, receipt of immunotherapy while pregnant correlated with a non-significant trend toward decreasing child allergy rates for any type of allergy (odds ratio, 0.84; 95% CI: 0.38 to 1.84).

Although the 10% to 12% reduced rate of allergies observed among the women’s children was not statistically significant, it may have clinical relevance, according to the researchers.

“More research is needed to understand if mothers can truly prevent allergies in their children by receiving allergy shots during or before pregnancy,” Lieberman said in a statement. “However, these study results show there is a strong association which is very encouraging as allergists explore this possibility.”

Research presented at scientific meetings has often not been previously peer reviewed or published, and results are considered preliminary.

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