Asthma, allergy, and IgE levels in NYC head start children

Demetra Z Rotsides, Inge F Goldstein, Stephen M Canfield, Matthew Perzanowski, Robert B Mellins, Lori Hoepner, Maxine Ashby-Thompson, Judith S Jacobson
Respiratory Medicine 2010, 104 (3): 345-55

BACKGROUND: Among preschool-age children in New York City neighborhoods with high asthma hospitalization rates, we analyzed the associations of total immunoglobulin E (IgE), specific IgE to common indoor allergens, and allergy symptoms with asthma.

METHODS: Parents of children in New York City Head Start programs were asked to complete a questionnaire covering demographic factors, health history (including respiratory conditions), lifestyle, and home environment. Children's serum samples were analyzed for total IgE and specific IgE antibodies to cockroach, dust mite, mouse, and cat allergens by immunoassay. Logistic regression was used to model the association between asthma and IgE, controlling for age, gender, ethnicity/national origin, BMI, parental asthma, smokers in the household, and allergy symptoms (e.g., runny nose, rash).

RESULTS: Among 453 participating children (mean age 4.0+/-0.5 years), 150 (33%) met our criteria for asthma. In our multivariable logistic regression models, children with asthma were more likely than other children to be sensitized to each allergen, to be sensitized to any of the four allergens (OR=1.6, 95% CI 1.0-2.6), or to be in the highest quartile of total IgE (OR=3.1, 95% CI 1.5-6.4). Allergy symptoms based on questionnaire responses were independently associated with asthma (OR=3.7, 95% CI 2.3-5.9).

CONCLUSIONS: Among preschool-aged urban children, asthma was associated with total IgE and sensitization to cat, mouse, cockroach, and dust mite allergens. However, allergy symptoms were more prevalent and more strongly associated with asthma than was any allergen-specific IgE; such symptoms may precede elevated specific IgE or represent a different pathway to asthma.

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