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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006 Dec;118(6):1265-70. Epub 2006 Sep 25.

Endotoxin exposure, wheezing, and rash in infancy in a New Zealand birth cohort.

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Wellington Asthma Research Group, Department of Medicine, Wellington South, New Zealand.



Wheezing in infancy is common and is associated with small lungs, viral respiratory tract infection, and environmental tobacco smoke exposure. Recently, increased levels of endotoxin in the domestic environment have also been associated with infant wheezing, particularly among infants with a family history of atopic disease.


To explore associations between exposure to endotoxin at 3 months of age and reported symptoms of wheezing, rhinitis, itchy scaly rash, and atopy at 15 months in a birth cohort of 881 New Zealand children.


Using standardized methods, a 1-m(2) site from the bedroom floors of the 3-month-old infants was sampled and analyzed for endotoxin.


Wheezing was significantly associated with higher endotoxin levels (odds ratio [OR], 1.54; 95% CI, 1.03-2.30), particularly among infants with a parental history of allergic disease (OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.07-2.60). Higher endotoxin concentrations were also strongly associated with recurrent itchy rashes (OR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.14-3.05), particularly among infants who were atopic (OR, 4.64; 95% CI, 1.56-13.77) or had a parental history of allergic disease (OR, 2.10; 95% CI, 1.22-3.61).


Domestic endotoxin was associated with reported airway and skin symptoms in this large group of New Zealand infants. The role of endotoxin in the development of respiratory and skin disease in infancy deserves further study.


Reducing domestic endotoxin exposure might reduce infant wheezing and atopic dermatitis, but the long-term benefits of this remain unclear.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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