Johns Hopkins Gazette: February 3, 1997 Form

In Brief

Allergy shots not always helpful for children

Johns Hopkins researchers have resolved a long-standing controversy by showing that allergy shots add little or no benefit to standard drug treatment for children with year-round moderate to severe asthma.

In a 10-year study of 121 children ages 5 to 14 with allergies and asthma, the shots had no significant benefits for patients whose asthma symptoms are controlled with medication and reasonable avoidance of dust, dander and other allergens.

"Allergy shots are probably not useful for these patients," said Franklin Adkinson, a professor of medicine at Hopkins' Asthma and Allergy Center. "This could be because anti-asthma drugs overshadow the shots' effects. It's also possible that exposure to allergens is less important to the start of an asthma episode in these children than we thought."

Shots could still be useful, Adkinson said, in patients whose medication use is irregular or where avoiding exposure to allergens is difficult.

"This is a complicated decision," he noted. "For this group, sick asthmatic children, the shots don't appear to help. Other groups of patients may still benefit, depending upon factors such as severity of disease, response to and acceptance of other treatments, and cost."

"[In the study there] were improvement trends in a small sub-group that took shots, the younger children with milder symptoms," Adkinson said. "It's possible that shots begun shortly after allergic children start having asthma could alter the development of asthma or moderate the patient's symptoms later in life. We're going to need new studies to test this theory."

Nursing School launches acute/critical care program

In response to the growing need for advanced practice nurses who can effectively manage critically ill patients, the School of Nursing will offer a graduate-level acute care/critical care nurse practitioner program.

Acute care nurse practitioners practice anywhere patients are acutely ill and need comprehensive assessment of multiple body systems and intensive therapies, such as emergency departments and trauma centers, intensive care units and oncology units.

The need for acute care nurse practitioners has emerged because many nurses, and physicians, are moving toward primary care, creating a care gap in the intensive and acute care units, said Candis Morrison, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing and the new program's coordinator.

The Acute Care/Critical Care Nurse Practitioner Program, which begins in the fall of 1997, will be offered on the master's and post-master's levels. It will consist of 41 credits and more than 900 clinical hours. Registrations are currently being accepted. For more information, call (410)955-7548.

A&E to feature Evergreen House

The Arts and Entertainment cable channel will feature the historic Hopkins-owned Evergreen House in its program "America's Castles," set to air Saturday, Feb. 8, at 5 p.m. Check local TV listings for the A&E channel in your area.

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