Prevalence and determinants of house dust mite allergen in East German homes

Authors


Dr Hirsch Kinderklinik des Universitätsklinikums Carl Gustav Carus der Technischen Universität Dresden, Fetscherstrasse 74, D-01307 Dresden, Germany.

Abstract

Background

In 1990/91, allergic sensitization to house dust mites (HDM) and other allergens was more prevalent in children from West Germany than from East Germany.

Objective

To test the hypothesis that low indoor exposure to HDM allergen in East Germany has contributed to this difference.

Methods

HDM allergen concentrations were determined in 634 East German dwellings shortly after the German reunification.

Results

HDM group I allergen (Der p 1 + Der f 1) levels in mattresses (median 2.16, geometric mean 2.07, maximum 278.9 μg/g dust) and carpets (median 0.41, geometric mean 0.48, maximum 96.3 μg/g dust) were within the range of levels determined in West Germany in other studies. One particular East German type of dwelling (light concrete buildings) was associated with lower mite allergen exposure, but only a minority of the population lived there. Coal heating, installed in the majority of dwellings before 1989, was associated with higher allergen exposure. Higher relative humidity (RH) was a main risk factor for higher Der p 1 exposure (odds ratio [OR] for exposure to > 0.05 μg/g dust on carpets: 1.4 [95% confidence intervall (CI) 1.2–1.8] for + 10% RH) but not for higher Der f 1 exposure. Higher temperature was associated with a lower risk for elevated Der p 1 levels (> 0.05 μg/g dust on carpets): OR 0.6 (95% CI 0.5–0.8) for + 2 °C.

Conclusion

Mite allergen exposure is not lower in East Germany than in West Germany. The data does not support the hypothesis, that low HDM allergen exposure in East Germany is a cause for the lower prevalence of HDM sensitization in East German children.

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