Total and specific IgE associations between New York City Head Start children and their parents

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Abstract

Background:

Allergy and asthma risk share strong inherited components; however, the relative importance of maternal and paternal atopy in predicting child atopy remain unclear.

Objective:

We sought to identify relationships between parents' and children's total and specific IgE levels within family units as predictors of allergic risk in children.

Methods:

Total and allergen-specific IgE (to dust mite, cockroach, mouse, and cat) were determined by means of ImmunoCap (Phadia, Inc, Portage, Mich) in a sample of families participating in New York City Head Start programs. Regression models were developed to determine the associations of parents' and children's total IgE levels and sensitization patterns.

Results:

Blood specimens were collected from 161 family triads of mother, father, and child (83 boys and 78 girls). At a mean age of 4 years, boys had significantly higher total IgE levels than girls. Boys' total IgE levels were highly correlated with both mothers' (P< .002) and fathers' (P= .002) total IgE levels; girls' total IgE levels were not. Unlike total IgE levels, specific IgE levels among both boys and girls were associated with their mothers' specific IgE levels. Dust mite sensitization among mothers was predictive of children's sensitization to each of the 4 aeroallergens.

Conclusion:

The strong associations between parents' and children's IgE levels suggest that assessment of parents' total and locally relevant allergen-specific IgE levels might have value in predicting atopy in children of preschool age.

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