Nonlinear relationship of mite allergen exposure to mite sensitization and asthma in a birth cohort

Euan R Tovey, Catarina Almqvist, Qiang Li, Daniele Crisafulli, Guy B Marks
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 2008, 122 (1): 114-8, 118.e1-5

BACKGROUND: There is uncertainty about the nature of the relationship between mite allergen exposure during infancy and the expression of allergic diseases in childhood.

OBJECTIVE: We sought to explore the relationships between repeated measurements of mite allergen exposure during the first 5 years of life and clinical allergic disease outcomes at age 5 years.

METHODS: In a birth cohort of 516 at-risk children, 13 bed dust samples were collected between birth and 5 years of age and analyzed for mite allergen. At age 5 years, the presence of mite atopy was assessed based on skin prick test results, and clinical assessments for asthma, eczema, and wheeze were conducted. The association of allergen exposure with each clinical outcome was examined by means of logistic regression, with adjustments for potential confounders.

RESULTS: The lowest and highest mite exposure quintiles, expressed as mean allergen concentration averaged over 0 to 5 years, were associated with a lower prevalence of mite atopy and of asthma compared with intermediate levels of exposure. These relationships, when determined by using average allergen concentration over 0 to 18 months, were weaker.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates a nonlinear relationship between mite allergen exposure and clinical outcomes in this generally high mite allergen environment.

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