• domestic aeroallergens;
  • pollen;
  • fungal spore;
  • asthma;
  • sensitization

The homes of 68 atopic asthmatic children were studied to estimate the concentrations of perennial and seasonal aeroallergens (Der pl, Fel d1, grass pollen, tree pollen, Cladosporium, Aspergillaceae and Alternaria) to which children were likely to have been exposed during their first few months of life, by sampling in the child's month of birth. There was a strong association between the presence or absence of the house dust mite allergen Der p1 in the air with the skin test and IgE antibody test results (p < 0.001), with a similar association for cat allergen Pel d 1 (p < 0.01), when using a low volume sampler (equivalent to the minute tidal volume of a small baby). No significant correlation was found between levels of allergen in carpet dust and air in the same room. There was a strong indication that the presence of a cat at birth was linked with a higher risk of development of allergy to cat, but high levels of Fel d 1 were sometimes found in homes even when there was no cat present, indicating that allergen may be introduced from other sources. The levels of tree pollen were significantly higher in the homes of tree pollen-allergic children than in the homes of patients without this sensitivity (p < 0.01); and the degree of sensitivity, determined by RAST, correlated significantly to the level of tree pollen in the home (p < 0.001). However, no relationship was found between specific sensitivity and the levels of Cladosporium, Aspergillaceae, Alternaria or grass pollen measured in the homes. The effect of high allergen exposure was most prominent in children under 7 yr and not beyond that age.