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Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2009 May;20(3):219-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3038.2008.00782.x. Epub 2008 Aug 12.

Mannose-binding lectin cord blood levels and respiratory symptoms during infancy: a prospective birth cohort study.

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Division of Pediatric Respiratory Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Berne, Berne CH-3010, Switzerland.


Respiratory infections cause considerable morbidity during infancy. The impact of innate immunity mechanisms, such as mannose-binding lectin (MBL), on respiratory symptoms remains unclear. The aims of this study were to investigate whether cord blood MBL levels are associated with respiratory symptoms during infancy and to determine the relative contribution of MBL when compared with known risk factors. This is a prospective birth cohort study including 185 healthy term infants. MBL was measured in cord blood and categorized into tertiles. Frequency and severity of respiratory symptoms were assessed weekly until age one. Association with MBL levels was analysed using multivariable random effects Poisson regression. We observed a trend towards an increased incidence rate of severe respiratory symptoms in infants in the low MBL tertile when compared with infants in the middle MBL tertile [incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.59; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.95-2.66; p = 0.076]. Surprisingly, infants in the high MBL tertile suffered significantly more from severe and total respiratory symptoms than infants in the middle MBL tertile (IRR = 1.97; 95% CI: 1.20-3.25; p = 0.008). This association was pronounced in infants of parents with asthma (IRR = 3.64; 95% CI: 1.47-9.02; p = 0.005). The relative risk associated with high MBL was similar to the risk associated with well-known risk factors such as maternal smoking or childcare. In conclusion the association between low MBL levels and increased susceptibility to common respiratory infections during infancy was weaker than that previously reported. Instead, high cord blood MBL levels may represent a so far unrecognized risk factor for respiratory morbidity in infants of asthmatic parents.

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