Purpose: Childhood allergies are a serious problem, as they may lead to lifetime chronic disease. Determination of total and specific IgE levels is known to be a diagnostic tool for allergic sensitization; however, IgE levels are affected by various factors, such as age, sex, ethnicity, and geographic area. Thus, we evaluated the distribution of total and specific serum IgE levels against seven inhalant allergens in preschool children and examined their association with allergic diseases in Seoul, Korea. Methods: Total/specific serum IgE determination and skin prick tests for seven common allergens were performed on 509 children aged 3 to 6 years from 16 child care centers in Seoul, Korea. Demographic characteristics were surveyed from parents using a modified International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) questionnaire. A diagnosis of atopic dermatitis was made by physicians. Results: The geometric mean of total IgE was 80.48±3.80 kU/L in preschool children. IgE levels were higher in boys (boys, 102.34±3.52 kU/L; girls, 62.37±3.93 kU/L; P<0.001) and atopic subjects (atopic, 158.00±3.35 kU/L; non-atopic, 52.75±3.44 kU/L; P<0.001). An increased prevalence of atopy was associated with a high monthly household income (P=0.004) and higher maternal education level (above university-level education; P=0.009), as well as increased total IgE levels (P=0.036). Physician-diagnosed atopic dermatitis was associated with sensitization to inhalant allergens. Conclusions: Total IgE levels were very high as compared with those in previous reports from other countries. The most common sensitized allergen was Dermatophagoides farinae, and the positive response rate peaked at age 3 years and was maintained thereafter, particularly in boys. Specific IgE levels for seven inhalant allergens varied with age in preschool children. Although further investigations are needed with a broad range of ages and various allergens, the distribution of the total and specific serum IgE levels in preschool children might help to serve as a reference value to diagnose atopy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Immunology and Allergy
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine