The association of allergic symptoms with sensitization to inhalant allergens in childhood.Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2009 Aug; 20(5):448-57.PA
Although it is generally agreed that sensitization is an important risk factor for allergic diseases, the extent to which sensitization accounts for allergic symptoms in children is controversial. As part of the Aalst Allergy Study, this cross-sectional study investigated the prevalence of allergic symptoms and their association with sensitization in an unselected population of Flemish children aged 3.4-14.8 yr. Skin prick testing with the most common aeroallergens was performed and allergic symptoms were documented by a parental questionnaire. In the children older than 6 yr, a significant association of current wheezing, current dyspnea, airway hyperreactivity, rhinoconjunctivitis, and current eczema with sensitization was found, while in the pre-school children these associations were less pronounced. The association with sensitization was strongest for rhinoconjunctivitis and current respiratory symptoms - the association was less striking for children with current eczema. The impact of a positive family history of allergy on the association with sensitization was more important for eczema than for the other analyzed allergic symptoms. Persistent and late-onset wheezers were significantly more likely than non-wheezers and transient early wheezers to be associated with sensitization and a personal history of rhinoconjunctivitis. Late-onset wheezing was associated with a positive family history of allergy, while transient early wheezing was associated with day-care attendance. An association with eczema was found for all three childhood wheezing phenotypes. The association of allergic symptoms with sensitization is significant in the older but less pronounced in pre-school children and is more pronounced for current allergic symptoms. Diagnosis and disease definition of allergy symptoms remains difficult at pre-school age. The influence of a positive family history of allergy on the association of the respective allergic symptoms with sensitization was most important for eczema. Our data confirm the atopic characteristics of the different wheeze phenotypes.