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Keywords:

  • foods;
  • IgE;
  • IgG;
  • atopy;
  • inhalants;
  • predictor;
  • preschool children

Summary

Background In children at high risk of inhalation allergy, food sensitization is associated with an increased risk for sensitization to inhalant allergens. Furthermore, this association was also found in a cross-sectional study.

Objective To examine in a prospective study, whether levels of IgG to foods (i.e. mixture of wheat and rice, mixture of soy bean and peanut, egg white, cow's milk, meat, orange and potato) indicate an increased risk for the future development of IgE antibodies to inhalant allergens in a low-risk population and whether they can be used as predictors of the subsequent development of IgE antibodies in young, initially IgE-negative children.

Methods Coughing children, aged 1–5, visiting their GPs, were tested for IgE antibodies to mite, dog and cat (RAST) and IgG (ELISA) to foods. All IgE-negative children were retested for IgE antibodies after two years. The IgG results (66 percentiles) of the first blood sample were compared to the RAST-scores of the second blood sample.

Results After two years, 51 out of 397 (12.8%) originally IgE-negative children, had become IgE-positive for cat, dog and/or mite. An increased IgG antibody level to wheat-rice (OR = 2.2) and to orange (OR = 2.0) indicated an increased risk of developing IgE to cat, dog or mite allergens. In addition to IgG to a mixture of wheat-rice and orange; total IgE, breastfeeding, eczema as a baby and age were the most important predictors for the subsequent development of IgE to inhalant allergens.

Discussion An increased IgG antibody level to a mixture of wheat-rice or orange, indicates an increased risk of developing IgE to cat, dog or mite allergens. This indicates that excessive activity of the mucosal immune system is present before IgE antibodies to airborne allergens can be demonstrated. Nevertheless, IgG to foods is not very helpful (with a positive predictive value of 16.5%, and negative predictive value of 90.6%) in identifying individual children at risk in clinical practice. However, besides other risk factors, IgG to wheat-rice and to orange could be useful as a screening test for studies in the early identification, i.e. before IgE antibodies can be detected, of children with an increased risk of developing IgE antibodies in the future.