Background Allergen skin test reactivity and total serum IgE are objective measures used to characterize and help diagnose allergic diseases. Cross-sectional studies have shown that overall aeroallergen skin test reactivity increases throughout childhood. However, little attention has been paid to whether individual aeroallergen remittance occurs, which could distort or mask relationships to disease.
Objective To access the incidence and remittance of skin test reactions to individual allergens in children aged 6–11 years.
Methods Longitudinal sensitization to six aeroallergens and total IgE were assessed in 828 children raised in the semi-arid US southwest at ages 6 and 11 years.
Results New sensitization (to any allergen) between 6 and 11 years occurred in 30.2% of children compared with 39.7% before age 6 years. The rate of complete remittance from positive to negative between ages 6 and 11 years was 8.2%, and total IgE at age 6 years was not predictive. Remittance rates for individual allergens were high and variable (19–49%). The perennial allergens Bermuda and Alternaria were early sensitizers and had low remittance rates. Early sensitization to the four seasonal allergens was less common and more subject to remittance with the bulk of sensitization occurring between 6 and 11 years.
Conclusion This study shows that sensitization to individual aeroallergens in childhood is dynamic and indicates the limitation of single point assessment of skin test reactivity.