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Allergy Asthma Proc. 2012 Nov-Dec;33(6):493-9. doi: 10.2500/aap.2012.33.3600.

Allergic sensitization frequency and wheezing differences in early life between black and white children.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI, USA.


Asthma is more common in black children than in white children. Allergic sensitization has been shown to be associated with increased likelihood of asthma. This study was designed to determine whether there are racial differences in the allergens to which children are sensitized in the Detroit metropolitan area and determine whether sensitization was associated with wheeze outcomes. Pregnant women were recruited for the Wayne County Health, Environment, Allergy, and Asthma Longitudinal Study birth cohort to follow the health of their children in the Detroit metropolitan area. Specific IgE (sIgE) was measured for Alternaria, cat, cockroach, dog, Dermatophagoides farinae, short ragweed, timothy grass, egg, milk, and peanut in blood samples from the children at age 2 years. A positive allergen sIgE was defined as ≥0.35 IU/mL. Mothers reported their child's race and completed interviews at age 2 years about characteristics of wheezing episodes in their child (frequency, medication, acute care, or emergency department visit). Black children (n = 384) were more likely than white children (n = 180) to have been positive for each of the allergens tested and also tended to have positive responses to a greater number of allergens (four or more allergens: 9.2% versus 3.5%). Children who had two or more positive sIgEs (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 2.68; 95% 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.33, 5.46) or three or more positive sIgEs (aOR = 2.67, 95% CI, 1.19, 6.01) were more likely to have wheezed four or more times in the last 12 months. Racial differences in sensitization at this young age may contribute to the racial difference in asthma prevalence at later ages.

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