BACKGROUND: There is evidence that atopic disorders may begin in intra-uterine life; however, studies of birth characteristics and atopy show conflicting results. METHODS: We wanted to investigate the association of birth weight and head circumference with serum total or specific IgE, allergic rhinitis or eczema while addressing the influence of demographic and geographical factors. In this historic prospective cohort study, data were collected from birth records for 1683 men and women born in 1947-1973, from six Nordic-Baltic populations participating in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey. Blood tests for the measurement of serum total and specific IgE were available for 1494 subjects. In multiple regression analyses, adjustments were made for birth length, gender, age, study centre, adult body mass index, level of education, parental and adult smoking. RESULTS There was no association of birth weight (n=1230) and head circumference (n=285) with serum total IgE, specific IgE antibodies, allergic rhinitis or eczema. There were neither significant interactions by gender or age, nor heterogeneity between the study centres in the analyses of birth weight and adult atopy. CONCLUSION: Birth size was not associated with atopy among adults in this large Nordic-Baltic population study.
In this cross-sectional study we investigated whether the presence of specific serum IgE antibodies to house dust mite, timothy, birch, cat, and mold was associated with a reduced FEV1 in adults. We performed complete examinations on 82% of a stratified random sample of 18 to 73-yr-old adults (n = 1,239). Subjects with house-dust-mite antibodies had lower (p = 0.002) sex, age, and height standardized residuals of FEV1 (SFEV1) than those without any specific IgE antibody. This relationship did not differ significantly by sex, age, smoking habit, total serum IgE level, or season, and remained significant after excluding subjects with obstructive lung disease. For house-dust-mite antibodies we also observed a dose-response relationship between antibody levels and impaired lung function. In a final multiple linear regression analysis the presence of house-dust-mite antibodies was the only significant predictor (regression coefficient: -0.425; SE = 0.189; p = 0.02) of reduced SFEV1 after adjusting for smoking habit and lifetime tobacco consumption, season, total serum IgE level, and respiratory-symptom and disease status. Thus, house-dust-mite allergy is an independent predictor of reduced lung function in adults of a wide age range.
We studied total and specific serum IgE levels cross-sectionally, potential predictors of obstructive lung disease, in a stratified random sample of 18-73-year-old adults (n = 1512). The attendance rate was 84%. The total IgE level and prevalences of specific IgE antibodies against house dust mite and cat were higher for men than for women. Specific IgE levels decreased by increasing age, while total IgE decreased in women only. Smokers had a higher IgE level than non-smokers, while non-smokers had more often specific IgE antibodies against timothy and birch than smokers. Subjects with occupational dust or gas exposure had a higher total IgE level than unexposed. The general population prevalences were for specific IgE antibodies against timothy 4.5%, house dust mite 3.2%, birch 2.6%, cat dander 1.6% mould 0.2% and against any of these 7.6%. In a multivariate analysis age, occupational dust or gas exposure as well as the interaction terms between sex and age and between smoking and pack-years were independent predictors for total IgE levels. Male sex, young age, never having smoked and the season of the year were independent predictors for having one or more of the five specific IgE antibodies. Subjects with total serum IgE in the highest quintile (> or = 66 kU/l) had an adjusted odds ratio of 37 (95% confidence interval: 11-120) for having one or more of the specific IgE antibodies examined, compared with those in the lowest quintile (