Factors that either protect from or enhance the development of atopic disease appear to be acting early in life. The gestational environment, including maternal immune responses, such as transplacentally transferred immunoglobulin (Ig) G antibodies to allergens, may be of importance in this respect, since allergen-specific immunity has been demonstrated to develop in utero.
To evaluate the relation between cord blood IgG subclass antibodies to allergens, maternal atopy and development of atopic disease in the children.
Material and methods
The study group comprised a cohort of 96 children participating in a prospective study up to 8 years of age. Cord blood IgG subclass antibodies to ovalbumin, β-lactoglobulin, Bet v 1 and cat dander were analysed by ELISA.
The levels of all IgG subclass antibodies to ovalbumin and rBet v 1 were higher in newborn infants with an atopic mother, as compared with babies with nonatopic mothers. IgG1 antibody levels to cat and IgG4 antibody levels to β-lactoglobulin and cat were also higher in atopic than in nonatopic mothers, whereas the other subclass antibody levels to those allergens were similar. High levels of cord blood IgG antibodies to cat and birch, but not to the food allergens, were associated with less atopic symptoms in the children during the first 8 years of life. Moreover, children who developed IgE antibodies to cat had lower levels of IgG antibodies to that allergen at birth.
High levels of cord blood IgG subclass, especially IgG4, antibodies to food and inhalant allergens are associated with maternal atopy. High levels of IgG antibodies to inhalant, but not food, allergens are associated with less development of atopy in the children.