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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Mar;59(3):399-403.

Prevalence of self-reported food allergy and IgE antibodies to food allergens in Swedish and Estonian schoolchildren.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Paediatrics, Umeå University Hospital, Umeå, Sweden.



To compare the prevalence of self-reported food allergy and IgE antibodies to food allergens in wheezing and non-wheezing Estonian and Swedish schoolchildren, in the light of the disparities in the standard of living, food consumption and prevalence of respiratory allergies that still exist between Estonia and the Scandinavian countries.


As a part of the ISAAC Phase II study, children from a random sample of schools in Tallinn in Estonia and Linköping and Ostersund in Sweden participated in skin prick tests to inhalant allergens and the parents replied to questionnaires. IgE antibodies against a panel of food allergens (egg white, milk, soy bean, fish, wheat and peanut) were taken from children with questionnaire-reported wheezing and a random sample of nonwheezing children.


Children aged 10-11 y.


The prevalence of self-reported food allergy was similar in Estonia and Sweden and about twice as high in wheezing children than in nonwheezing children. In Estonia, however, 3% of the children with perceived food allergy reported reactions from at least four different foods, as compared to 31% in Sweden. The prevalence of sensitisation to food allergens was similar in wheezing and nonwheezing children in Estonia (8%) while, in Swedish children, IgE antibodies to food allergens were more likely among wheezing children (Linköping 38 vs 11%, crude OR 5.1, 95% CI 2.2-11.6, and Ostersund 24 vs 7%, crude OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.9-8.5).


Our study suggests that IgE-mediated food reactions were less likely in Estonian schoolchildren. Moreover, the perception of food allergy and thereby the meaning of self-reported food allergy appears to be different in the two countries.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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