Cockroach allergy appears early in life in inner-city children with recurrent wheezing.Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2001; 86(1):51-4AA
Cockroach allergy and exposure to high levels of this allergen are important in the increasing asthma-related health problems among young inner-city children. However, there are very little data regarding the prevalence of cockroach allergy in infants and young children with asthma.
This retrospective study was designed to test the hypothesis that cockroach allergy appears early in life in young children with recurrent wheezing.
We reviewed the medical records of all 196 children (ages 5 months to 16 years) evaluated between January 1995 and September 1997 at the Cook County Hospital Pediatric Allergy Clinic for recurrent wheezing. The patients were assigned into two age groups, less than 4 years old and 4 to 16 years old. The percentages of IgE skin tests positive for common aeroallergens were compared within and between the two age groups. All children in the younger age group were tested for cockroach and dust mites, cat, and dog when indicated by positive environmental history. All children in the older age group were tested for indoor and outdoor allergens.
Sixty-three children were younger than 4 years of age, and of these, 15 (23.8%) had cockroach allergen sensitivity, compared with only eight patients (12.7%) who were skin test positive to dust mite allergen (P = .01). The youngest patient with a positive reaction to cockroach allergen was 6 months old. Patients with a single allergen skin reactivity were considered as monosensitized. Nine children younger than 4 years of age (14.3%) were monosensitized only to cockroach allergen in contrast to three children (4.8%) who were monosensitized to house-dust mites (P < .05).
Our data suggest that cockroach allergen sensitivity starts early in life and may be the only sensitizing allergen in many young inner-city children.