Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, eczema, and sensitization in two areas with differing climates

Authors


Bill Hesselmar, The Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, 416 85 Göteborg, Sweden
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bill.hesselmar@medfak.gu.se

Abstract

In this 5-year follow-up study we compared the prevalence of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis, eczema, and sensitization, in relation to several background factors, in two Swedish regions (Göteborg and Kiruna). In Göteborg, a city on the southwest coast, the climate is mild and humid. Kiruna is a town north of the Arctic Circle. Questionnaire replies and results of interviews were collected from all 412 7–8-year-old children of a population-based sample (203 in Göteborg and 209 in Kiruna); in addition, 192 children from Göteborg and 205 from Kiruna were skin-prick tested for sensitization to common aero-allergens. After 5 years, at 12–13 years of age, almost all of the initial study cohort were re-investigated. At follow-up the prevalence of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis was 17%, eczema 23%, and sensitization 32%. Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis and eczema were as common in Göteborg as in Kiruna, whereas sensitization was far more common in Kiruna. Children born during the pollen season had allergic rhinoconjunctivitis less often – and were sensitized to pollen and animal protein less often – than those born during the rest of the year. Sensitization to birch pollen, cat protein, and horse protein was less common in children living in Göteborg, the region with the highest frequency of cat ownership and horseback riding, and with the longest birch-pollen season. The girls were more commonly horseback riders but the boys were more often sensitized to horses. The results reinforce our previous findings: indoor climate may affect the development of sensitization and allergic diseases, to some extent independently; and if exposure to antigen is unavoidable, high doses might be better than low doses.

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