IgE to egg, not milk, predictor for asthma?

Published Online: October 18, 2013

Children of allergic parents are at increased risk of developing asthma. Both parents and clinicians would like to know early whether the child will have asthma later in childhood. To predict asthma risk, allergic sensitization is often used.

In a recent Letter to the Editor in The Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI), Bekkers et al. investigated whether sensitization to hen’s egg allergen at age one year is a better predictor for the development of asthma than sensitization to other allergens. They used data from 565 children of allergic mothers who participated in the PIAMA birth cohort study.

At age one year 159 (29%) children were sensitized, 142 of those children were sensitized to cow’s milk and 36 to hen’s egg. At age 8 years, 9.9% of the children had asthma. Among the children with IgE to egg, 28% had developed asthma, which was significantly more than 12.4% found among the children with IgE to milk. The prevalence of IgE to airborne allergens at age one year was too low to estimate its predictive value. The authors consider sensitization to be a marker, conclusions about causality cannot be drawn from this observational study.  

The authors conclude that to predict a child’s asthma risk early in life, sensitization to a particular allergen should be considered instead of sensitization to any allergen. They observed egg sensitization at age one year to be a stronger predictor than milk sensitization, but suggest that the most relevant specific type of sensitization may differ between populations.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is an official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

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