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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1995 Mar;95(3):655-62.

Sensitization to mite allergens is a risk factor for early and late onset of asthma and for persistence of asthmatic signs in children.

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  • 1University Children's Hospital, Freiburg, Germany.



To describe the natural history of asthma between the ages of 7 and 10 years and to analyze risk factors for prevalences, as well as new onset of asthma-like symptoms, a longitudinal study of 1812 children was conducted.


In four surveys, each 1 year apart, four asthma-like symptoms and several hypothetical risk factors were ascertained through standardized questionnaires. Sensitization to seven common inhalant allergens was measured by skin prick testing. Exposure to mite allergens (Der p I, Der f I) was assessed by measuring the antigen concentrations in the dust of each child's mattress. Occurrence of more than one asthma-like symptom closely related to the practioner's diagnoses of bronchial asthma and recurrent wheezy bronchitis was used as the outcome variable.


After an initial prevalence of 14.5%, new onset of symptoms in children unaffected at the beginning was reported in 7.2% during the 3 years. Of the factors explaining prevalence and persistence of asthma-like symptoms (sensitization to mite allergens and animal danders, history of hay fever and eczema, low gestational age, male gender, parental atopy), only sensitization to mite allergens (odds ratio = 2.3, 95% confidence interval = 1.1-4.7) and parental atopy (odds ratio = 2.1, 95% confidence interval = 1.2-3.7) were also significantly associated with new onset. In a relatively small number of sensitized subjects with new onset of symptoms (n = 31), mite antigen concentration did not appear to be associated with incidence of symptoms.


Sensitization to mite allergens antedated the onset of asthma-like symptoms, and no strong effect of allergen exposure on clinical development could be found. Thus the primary focus should be on preventing sensitization to mite allergens by implementing avoidance measures in infancy or at early school age in order to reduce the onset of asthma at a later stage.

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