Allergies are associated with arterial changes in young children

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Inflammation is important in atherosclerosis development. Whether common causes of inflammation, such as allergies and infections, already exert this influence in early childhood is unknown. The objective of this study was to investigate the association between both allergies and infections with children's vasculature.


This was a longitudinal study in a general population cohort.


In 390 five-year-olds of the WHISTLER (Wheezing-Illnesses-Study-LEidsche-Rijn) birth cohort, carotid intimamedia thickness (CIMT) and arterial stiffness were obtained ultrasonographically. Physician-diagnosed allergies and infections and recent prescriptions of systemic antihistamines and antibiotics were obtained, as well as parental history of allergies. General linear regression was performed with vascular characteristics as dependent variables and measures of inflammation as independent variables.


Having both a positive parental history of allergy and an allergy diagnosis showed 15.0 μm (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.3–27.8, p=0.02) larger CIMT than not having such history and diagnosis. Having a positive parental history of allergy only showed 11.9 μm (0.87–23.0, p=0.04) larger CIMT. Recent use of antihistamines and antibiotics showed 18.8 μm (1.6–35.9, p=0.03) and 16.1 μm (4.5–27.7, p=0.01) larger CIMT, respectively. Childhood infections were not clearly related to vascular parameters. Neither allergy nor infections were associated with arterial stiffness.


An allergic predisposition is already associated with thicker arterial walls in early childhood.

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