Sensitization to four common inhalant allergens within 302 nuclear families


Dr J. Kuehr, University Children's Hospital, W-7800 Freiburg, Mathildenstr. I, Germany.


The coincidence of allergic sensitization was investigated in 302 school-aged children and their parents. Specific sensitization to four common inhalant allergens (grass and birch pollens, cat dander, Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus) was ascertained by means of skin-prick tests (SPT) carried out on the complete family unit at the beginning of a 22-month follow-up period. The same test procedure was then repeated on the children twice at 11-month intervals to provide cumulative prevalences of sensitization. A clinical history of atopy in the children (hay fever or asthma; n= 47), which was derived from an interview, is associated with sensitization (positive SPT in 89%). For three allergens (grass and birch pollens, cat dander) sensitization occurs significantly more frequently in the children of mothers who are sensitized to the same allergen (odds-ratios (ORs), 2.5–4.1). Additionally, in three of the four explanatory models related to a single antigen, maternal sensitization to one of the complementary allergens is of importance (ORs, 2.7–3.7). In contrast to this finding, none of the paternal sensitizations has statistical significance. Based on a reaction to at least one of the four allergens, the child's relative risk to be sensitized is increased in case of maternal (OR, 2.88; P= 0.001) but not of paternal (OR, 1.06; P= 0.83) sensitization. In conclusion, our data indicate that the maternal status is more predictive than that of the father with regard to the child's risk of sensitization.