What are the main environmental exposures associated with elevated IgE in Cuban infants? A population-based study

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Immunoglobulin E (IgE) plays a key role in allergy disease pathogenesis, but little is known about the environmental factors associated with higher IgE levels in infants. The aim of this study was to determine the risk factors for elevated serum total IgE infants living in Havana.


Eight hundred and seventy-seven infants provided blood samples. Data on allergic disease symptoms and a wide range of exposures were collected.


The median IgE was 35IU/ml (interquartile range 13–96). The risk of having an IgE level above the median was higher for children who had been breastfed for 4 months or more (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.28; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.02–1.61) and for children who reported cockroaches in their home (OR 1.30; 95% CI: 1.03–1.63). The risk was lower for children whose mother was in paid employment (OR 0.73; 95% CI: 0.54–0.97 compared with those who did not), for children living in homes where gas and electricity were used for cooking (OR 0.45; 95% CI: 0.32–0.62 compared with electricity only) and for children with domestic pets at birth (OR 0.83; 95% CI: 0.70-1.00). There was no association between paracetamol use and serum IgE levels.


Associations between gas fuel use and maternal employment indicate that IgE levels in early life are lower in children who may be living in relative affluence. The discrepancy in the effect of early exposure to pets or cockroaches may reflect differences in these allergens, or be confounded by relative affluence. Further investigation of this cohort will determine how these effects translate into the expression of allergic disease in later life.

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