Background The Th1/Th 2 concept is a model to understand the pathophysiology of certain diseases. Atopic diseases (asthma, eczema and hayfever) are characterized by a chronic inflammatory reaction that is dominated by Th 2 cells, and type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM) is Th1 cell dominated. Because it is known that Th1 and Th 2 cells reciprocally counteract each other, it can be speculated that the prevalence of Th 2-mediated disease is lower in patients with Th1-mediated disease.
Objective To compare the prevalence of atopic diseases between children with DM and age-matched controls.
Methods Parents of children with DM were requested by Dutch paediatricians to complete the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire on the prevalence of atopic diseases. A control group was derived from a Dutch cross-sectional survey (the ISAAC2 study).
Results We received 555 completed questionnaires, which is estimated to be 25% of the total number of Dutch children with DM. The control group consisted of 777 children. After age-matching, the questionnaires of 188 DM patients were used. Symptoms of asthma, hayfever and eczema were reported less in the group of children with DM compared with the control group (wheeze last year, OR 0.796, 95% CI 0.408–1.554; hayfever symptoms last year, OR 0.642, 95% CI 0.369–1.118; eczema symptoms last year, OR 0.693, 95% CI 0.430–1.115).
Conclusion The lower prevalence of astma, hayfever and eczema symptoms in DM patients compared with age-matched controls, although not statistically significant, is consistent with the Th1/Th 2 concept.
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