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Keywords:

  • Anthroposophy;
  • cytomegalovirus;
  • Epstein–Barr virus;
  • HHV6;
  • HHV7;
  • IgE;
  • infants;
  • lifestyle;
  • sensitization;
  • viral infections

Background

Growing up in families with an anthroposophic lifestyle has been associated with reduced risk of allergic disease in children. The aim of this report was to assess whether children with this lifestyle are infected earlier with Epstein–Barr virus (EBV), which has been associated with reduced risk of allergic disease, and three other herpesviruses potentially involved in allergy development, namely Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV6), Human herpesvirus 7 (HHV7) and cytomegalovirus (CMV).

Methods

Within the ALADDIN (Assessment of Lifestyle and Allergic Disease During Infancy), birth cohort study 157 children were categorized according to lifestyle into anthroposophic and non-anthroposophic. IgG-levels for EBV, HHV6, HHV7 and CMV were determined in plasma samples collected at ages 12 and 24 months and from parents. IgE levels against seven common allergens were analyzed at 24 months.

Results

No significant differences in seroprevalence of EBV, HHV7 or CMV were detected at any age between the two lifestyle groups. The seroprevalence of HHV6 was significantly lower in the anthroposophic group at 24 months of age (74.6% vs. 87.5%, p-value 0.048). Further, no significant associations between allergic sensitization and seropositivity to any of the viruses were detected; however, an interaction effect of lifestyle could not be ruled out.

Conclusions

Our results indicate that there is no strong influence of exposure to the anthroposophic lifestyle on the time for infection with EBV, HHV6, HHV7 or CMV. These infections can therefore not be assumed to be important factors in the allergy-protective effect of this lifestyle.