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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Nov;108(5):709-14.

The pattern of atopic sensitization is associated with the development of asthma in childhood.

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Department of Pediatric Pneumology and Immunology, Charité, Berlin, Germany.



Even though atopic sensitization has been shown to be strongly associated with childhood asthma, asthma eventually develops in only one third of atopic children.


The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the pattern of atopic sensitization typically associated with the development of asthma in childhood.


The German Multicenter Allergy Study followed 1314 children from birth to the age of 7 years. Parental questionnaires on asthma and asthmatic symptoms were completed 6 times up to the age of 2 years and from then on yearly. Determination of specific IgE to 9 food and inhalant allergens was performed yearly, and at the age of 7 years, a bronchial histamine challenge was conducted.


Onset of atopic sensitization in atopic children with current asthma at the age of 7 years was significantly earlier than in atopic children without current asthma (39.4% before age 1 year vs 21.0%, P =.015). Early atopic sensitization without any sensitization to inhalant allergens at the age of 7 years conferred no increased risk for asthma at this age. Only those children sensitized to any allergen early in life and sensitized to inhalant allergens by the age of 7 years were at a significantly increased risk of being asthmatic at this age (odds ratio, 10.12; 95% CI, 3.81-26.88). However, even in this group of persistently sensitized children, the risk of being asthmatic at the age of 7 years was only increased if a positive parental history of asthma or atopy was present (odds ratio, 15.56; 95% CI, 5.78-41.83), with the effect being strongest for maternal asthma.


Our results indicate that an underlying factor pertaining to asthma and maternal transmission may determine both a certain pattern of sensitization and the expression of asthma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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