Background: Specific IgE antibodies are often detected without any clinical manifestation of allergies. We aimed to analyse the predictivity of allergic sensitization for incident symptoms of allergic diseases in adults during a 10-year follow-up .
Methods: In 1994/95 specific IgE antibodies against five common inhalant allergens (grass pollen, birch pollen, house dust mite, cat dander and Cladosporium) were diagnosed by radioallergosorbent test in 4178 adults aged 25–74 years. A subset of 2656 participants could be re-evaluated in 2004/05. Information on socio-economic factors and medical history, including data on atopic diseases, was assessed by a combination of a personal interview and a self-administered questionnaire. Logistic regression models were applied to study associations between allergic sensitization and incident allergic diseases.
Results: Allergic sensitization was an important predictor for incident hay fever (OR 7.95, CI 95% 4.64–13.62) and asthma (OR 1.82, CI 95% 1.29–2.57). Specific IgE antibodies were mainly related to outdoor allergens (grass and birch pollen) for hay fever and indoor allergens (mite and cat dander) for asthma, while for atopic dermatitis no specific IgE antibodies were identified as major predictors.
Conclusions: Allergic sensitization not only covers clinically apparent allergies, but indicates a prognostic factor for later allergies, even in adulthood.