Can You Receive Allergy Shots During Pregnancy?
Allergen immunotherapy, which is also known as allergy shots or desensitization, is one of the most effective treatments for allergies. The technique was developed more than a century ago, and since then it has been used for the treatment of allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, allergic conjunctivitis, atopic dermatitis and venom allergy. However, immunotherapy is not helpful against food allergies.
Allergy shots are the only allergy treatment that may potentially cure this disorder, or at least provide a significant relief from the symptoms.
What Do Immunotherapy Procedures Involve?
Treatment with immunotherapy involves the administration of injections containing tiny doses of an allergen extract under the skin of a patient, so that the body could perceive the allergen as a vaccine. It can be an extract of pollens, molds, pet dander, dust mites, insect venom, etc. The initial amounts of injected allergens are then gradually increased until a person can tolerate higher doses of the allergen.
Until you get to your maintenance (constant) dose, you will need to visit the allergist’s office once or twice a week to receive the injection, which may take about 3 to 6 months. As soon as your maintenance dose is achieved, most of your allergy symptoms will be reduced. Then, you will have to be receiving allergen injections every two or four weeks for a period of 3-5 years in total. Once you complete 3 years of allergen immunotherapy, your allergy symptoms will be under control for another 5-10 years, even without allergy shots. However, if you discontinue immunotherapy before completing 3 years, the symptoms are likely to return sooner.
Can You Take Allergy Shots During Pregnancy?
Allergic rhinitis and asthma affect thousands of women around the world, and the symptoms don’t go away when they get pregnant. If you have an allergy and you are pregnant, you may wonder if immunotherapy can be given during pregnancy and if there are any risks you should know about.
Thus, although there are no studies showing that allergy shots can be dangerous for the fetus, experts don’t recommend starting immunotherapy while pregnant.
On the other hand, women who were taking allergy shots before they became pregnant can continue the treatment during pregnancy. Normally, the dose of the allergy shots remains the same during pregnancy, but many doctors tend to decrease it.
However, according to some allergists, pregnant women shouldn’t be receiving allergy shots at all, because immunotherapy carries a risk of anaphylaxis that can possibly cause danger to the fetus.
If you are interested in continuing allergy shots during pregnancy, you should discuss this with your allergist first. Besides, you should talk to your obstetrician, before making any decisions.