Childhood asthma and exposure to indoor allergens: lowmite levels are associated with sensitivity


A. Warner, Department of Paediatrics, Helsing-borg Hospital, S-251 87 Helsingborg, Sweden, Phone: 146-42-100000


The prevalence and level of sensitivity to indoor allergens were studied in relation to current exposure at home in 124 children with perennial asthma living in three climatic zones of Sweden. The house dust mite (HDM) allergen levels were higher in the South than in the North (p < 0.001), while cat and dog allergen levels tended to be higher in the North than the South (n. s.). Thirty-four percent of the children were sensitive to the HDM Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, as determined by IgE antibodies in vitro, 27% were sensitive to D. farinae, 57% to cat and 55% to dog. Sensitivity to HDM was significantly more prevalent in Southern, than in Central and Northern Sweden (p=0.001) where the children were more often sensitive to pets (cat p=0.005, dog p= 0.002). A significant association between the concentration of Der p I and DerfI in the house dust and both the prevalence of sensitivity to HDM and the IgE antibody levels against mites was found even at concentrations well below the commonly suggested risk level for sensitisation of 2 μg/g dust. No relationship was found between pet allergen concentration in the home dust and sensitivity to pets, possibly because of exposure outside home, e. g. in schools and meeting places for leisure activities. Similarly, there was no consistent association between the level of mite or pet allergen exposure at home and asthma severity as judged by symptom and medication score. The study indicates that there is no threshold value for sensitisation to mite allergens in asthmatic children, and therefore, dust allergen levels at home should be kept as low as possible in homes of children at risk for asthma.