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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Sep;120(3):673-9. Epub 2007 Jun 21.

The effect of infectious burden on the prevalence of atopy and respiratory allergies in Iceland, Estonia, and Sweden.

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Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, Akademiska Sjukhuset, Uppsala, Sweden.



Epidemiologic reports on the effect of microbe exposure on the development of atopy and allergic asthma are inconsistent.


The study investigates the association between serologic markers of infections and occurrence of atopy, allergic asthma, and rhinitis among adults in Iceland, Sweden, and Estonia.


Individuals (n = 1249; mean age, 42 years) from Iceland, Sweden, and Estonia underwent a structured interview and blood sampling. Specific IgE was measured against 4 allergens, and IgG antibodies were measured against Helicobacter pylori, Toxoplasmosis gondii, hepatitis A virus, herpes simplex virus 1, Chlamydia pneumoniae, EBV, and cytomegalovirus.


Nonatopic subjects more often had positive serology for Helicobacter pylori, herpes simplex virus 1, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and cytomegalovirus. Having a low number (</=3) of IgG antibodies against the various infectious agents was an independent risk factor for atopy (odds ratio [OR], 1.43; 95% CI, 1.06-1.93), allergic asthma (OR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.12-2.98), and allergic rhinitis (OR, 1.69; 95% CI, 1.21-2.37). The proportion of atopy that can be explained by a lower number (</=3) of infections was 6.7% in Iceland, 9.2% in Estonia, and 16.4% in Sweden, and 6.7%, 48.2%, and 33.4% for allergic asthma, respectively.


Our data are consistent with cumulative protective effect of infections against atopy and respiratory allergies irrespective of route of infection.


The study indicates what microbes or combination of microbes play a role in the complex interplay between hygiene and allergy and may contribute toward the understanding of the allergy epidemic.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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