Background We have previously reported an association between low IgA and allergic manifestations in early childhood (0–2 years) and have now followed our cohort for an additional 2 years.
Objective To evaluate in a longitudinal community-based cohort study the association between maturation of Ig production and allergic manifestations in the first 4 years of life.
Methods A cohort of 161 randomly selected children was followed from birth to the age of 42–48 months and evaluated at 18–23 months (EV1; n=179) and again at the age of 42–48 months (EV2; n=161). Diagnoses were made with the help of a clinical questionnaire, physical examination and skin prick tests (SPTs) to 10 common allergens. Serum immunoglobulins were measured at EV1 and EV2, and salivary IgA (sal-IgA) at EV2.
Results Serum IgA, IgE, IgG1, IgG2 and IgG4 increased from 2 to 4 years of age (P<0.001) and their levels showed close correlations (P0.01 for most comparisons). Children with one or more positive SPTs had lower serum IgA (P=0.004) and IgG4 (P=0.05) at EV2 than those who did not respond, and children who developed allergic rhinitis between EV1 and EV2 had low sal-IgA (P=0.006) and IgG3 (P<0.05) at EV2. Atopic eczema was associated with low sal-IgA at EV2, and children who developed eczema between EV1 and EV2 had significantly lower sal-IgA than those who recovered after EV1 (P=0.02).
Conclusion Allergic manifestations in predisposed children may be influenced by the rate of maturation of immunological components that counteract sensitization or inhibit effector mechanisms of allergy.