Background A family history of atopy, and cord blood immunoglobulin E concentration, have been shown to be predictors of atopic disease in children. Several studies have suggested that parental atopy may be related to newborn immunoglobulin E. Objective The purpose of our analysis was to evaluate whether parental history of allergic disease was associated with cord blood immunoglobulin E concentration. Methods The study subjects were from a defined population of 777 newborns delivered between 1987 and 1989. The mothers of these children completed a questionnaire during pregnancy concerning themselves and the child's father, including parental history of physician diagnosis of allergic diseases (allergies, hay fever and asthma). Total immunoglobulin E levels were quantitated in cord blood samples with an enzyme-hnked immunoassay.
Results Median cord blood immunoglobulin E concentration was higher among infants whose mothers had a history of atopic disease, particularly for those with a history of asthma (P<0.022) and allergen immunotherapy (P<0.016) vs infants whose mothers had no history of any atopic disease. Comparing all babies with a maternal history of asthma, to babies where neither parent had a history of any atopic disease, the median cord blood immunoglobulin E was significantly higher (0.36IU/mL vs 0.21 IU/mL; P<0.009). This association was found only among female infants (0.49IU/mL vs 0.20 IU/mL; P<0.001).
Conclusion Maternal, but not paternal, history of atopic disease was associated with an elevated immunoglobulin E among newborns. For maternal asthma, this association was only evident in infant girls.