Get access

Building characteristics affect the risk of allergy development


Bill Hesselmar, Queen Silvia Children's Hospital, 416 85 Göteborg, Sweden
Tel.: +46 31 343 4000
Fax: +46 31 343 4760


Damp dwellings increase the risk for house dust mite (HDM) infestation in temperate climate zones and may be associated with an increased risk for allergic disease. The aim of the study was to assess possible relationships between allergen levels in house dust, characteristics of residence buildings and allergic diseases in children. A subsample of 12-yr-old children, having the same address in 1991 and 1996, was selected from a population-based sample of children from the Göteborg area. Health inspectors examined the residences of all the 109 children and several different building characteristics including humidity and indoor temperature were collected. Dust samples for analysis of HDM allergens were collected from the children's beds, and for analysis of cat and dog allergens from the living room. Current health status was assessed by questionnaires, interviews and skin prick tests (SPT). Dog or cat allergens were found in all houses, even in houses without such animals. HDM allergens were found in 60% of the houses, but only six of them had levels exceeding 2 μg/g dust. There was a strong association between HDM-infestation and wheeze, but not with specific sensitization to HDM. The type of building (houses when compared with flats), the ventilation system and the presence of a basement had all major implications on respiratory symptoms, atopy and HDM infestation. We can conclude that dog or cat allergens were found in all houses, and a strong association between HDM infestation and indoor environment. Building construction affected both respiratory morbidity and sensitisation independently, suggesting not only worsening of symptoms but also a causative relationship with disease development.