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Prevalence of pollen sensitization in younger children who have asthma

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It is commonly believed that young children are incapable of pollen sensitization; therefore, skin testing usually is not performed to these allergens. The purpose of this study was to identify the frequency of positive skin tests to outdoor allergens among younger children who have asthma. Patients who have asthma, aged 6 months to 10 years, were evaluated for pollen sensitization over a 10-year period. Skin-prick testing was performed to relevant individual aeroallergens including trees, grasses, and weeds. Testing for perennial indoor allergens such as dust mites, cats, dogs, cockroaches, and molds was performed also. A total of 687 children with asthma were evaluated. No child <12 months old was sensitized to pollens. Children between 12 and 24 months of age had a 29% incidence of pollen sensitization. Three-year-old children were as likely to be skin test positive to pollen as an indoor allergen. Notably, 49% of 3- and 4-year olds were sensitized to outdoor allergens. Primary sensitizing pollens in this age group were short ragweed, box elder, and June grass. In this population, pollen sensitization was not related to tobacco or wood smoke exposure. Although it is widely believed that young children with asthma are most commonly allergic to indoor allergens, almost 40% of our 1- to 3-year old children with asthma showed IgE-mediated sensitivity to outdoor allergens. Pediatric allergists should consider performing skin-prick testing to their local common aeroallergens in young children with asthma and seasonal symptoms.
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Keywords: Allergens; allergy; asthma; children; infants; pollen; prevalence; skin test; specific IgE; wheezing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Section of Allergy and Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, West Virginia

Publication date: 2007-11-01

More about this publication?
  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

    Articles marked "F" offer free full text for personal noncommercial use only.

    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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