Background: The predictive value of reported early symptoms to pollen or fruits on later allergic disease is unclear. Our aim is to evaluate if symptoms to pollen and/or to fruits early in life are associated with allergic disease and sensitization to pollen at 4 years.
Methods: The study included 3619 children from the Barn (Children), Allergy, Milieu, Stockholm, Epidemiology project (BAMSE) birth cohort. Reported symptoms of wheeze, sneeze or rash to birch, grass or weed, symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, rash, facial edema, sneeze, or wheeze) to fruits including tree-nuts at 1 or 2 years of age, and definitions of asthma, rhinitis and eczema at 4 years were derived from questionnaire data. Sensitization to pollen allergens was defined as allergen-specific IgE-antibodies to any pollen (birch/timothy/mugwort) ≥0.35 kUA/l.
Results: At 1 or 2 years of age, 6% of the children were reported to have pollen-related symptoms, 6% had symptoms to fruits, and 1.4% to both pollen and fruits. Children with symptoms to both pollen and fruits at 1 or 2 years of age had an increased risk for sensitization to any pollen allergen at age 4 (ORadj = 4.4, 95% CI = 2.1–9.2). This group of children also had a substantially elevated risk for developing any allergic disease (asthma, rhinitis, or eczema) at 4 years irrespective of sensitization to pollen (ORadj = 8.6, 95% CI = 4.5–16.4).
Conclusions: The prevalence of reported symptoms to pollen and fruits is very low in early childhood. However, children with early symptoms to both pollen and fruits appear to have a markedly elevated risk for allergic disease.