MUNICH, Germany, Aug. 25 — In the first three years of life, sensitization to indoor allergens, such as dust mites and cat and dog dander, may lead to allergic airway inflammation, impaired lung function, and asthma, according to researchers here.
On the other hand, 90% of children with wheezing but no atopy grew out of their symptoms by school age and retained normal lung function at puberty, showed results of the German Multicenter Allergy Study reported in the Aug. 26 issue of The Lancet.
In a birth cohort of 1,314 children in five German cities followed up to age 13, 499 newborns had risk factors for allergen sensitivity (raised cord blood IgE or at least two atopic family members), and 815 newborns had none of these risk factors, said Sabina Illi, Ph.D., of University Children’s Hospital and colleagues.
Dr. Illi noted that in Germany the prevalence of cockroach sensitization was estimated to be low and unlikely to contribute much to perennial allergic sensitization.
Early sensitization to perennial allergens affected lung function at school age, whereas later sensitization to these allergens had a less pronounced effect. By contrast, sensitization to food allergens and seasonal allergens had no significant effect on lung function at ages seven, 10, and 13, the researchers reported.
Lung function was significantly reduced in children sensitized early in life and exposed to high levels of allergens in the first three years of life, compared with non-sensitized and sensitized but less exposed children.
The ratio of forced expiratory volume (FEV1) to forced vital capacity (FVC) ratio was 87.4 (SD 7.4) for those sensitized and with high exposure compared with 92.6 (SD 6.0) for those not sensitized (P