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Respiratory comorbidity in South African children with atopic dermatitis

C L Gray, M E Levin, G du Toit

Abstract


Background. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is an early and important step in the propagation of the allergic march, enhancing food and respiratory allergies via epicutaneous sensitisation to allergens.

Objectives. To determine the prevalence and patterns of aeroallergen sensitisation, asthma and allergic rhinitis in South African (SA) children with AD.

Methods. This was a prospective, observational study in a paediatric university hospital in Cape Town, SA. Children with moderate to severe AD, aged 6 months - 10 years, were recruited randomly and investigated for food sensitisation and allergy. They were assessed for sensitisation to aeroallergens by the immuno solid-phase allergen chip test. House-dust mite DerP and DerF, dust mite Eur m, Timothy grass, Bermuda grass, tree pollen, mould (Alternaria), cat and dog sensitisation patterns were analysed. Symptoms of asthma and allergic rhinitis were elicited using a questionnaire modified from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood study questions.

Results. One hundred participants (59 black Africans and 41 of mixed ethnicity) were enrolled (median age 42 months). Of the participants, 39% had symptoms of asthma and 53% symptoms of allergic rhinitis; 89% tested positive to at least one aeroallergen, most commonly house-dust mite DerP or DerF (81%), dust mite Eur m (51%), Timothy grass (36%) and cat (35%). Asthma, allergic rhinitis and aeroallergen sensitisation all increased with increasing age, while food allergy decreased with age. Food allergy was not an independent risk factor for respiratory allergies. Children were sensitised to indoor allergens (house-dust mite, pets) from an early age, while pollen allergies increased with age.

Conclusions. In this cohort of SA children with moderate to severe AD, comorbidity with respiratory allergies was high. The prevalence of respiratory allergies increased with age while food allergy decreased with age, in keeping with the pattern of the allergic march. Seasonal allergies increased with age, while house-dust mite and pet allergy peaked in younger children, in keeping with early exposure via a defective skin barrier. Early and effective restoration of the skin barrier in AD may be a target for reducing aeroallergen-related diseases.

 


Authors' affiliations

C L Gray, Division of Allergology, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

M E Levin, Division of Allergology, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, and Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

G du Toit, King’s Health Partners MRM and Asthma UK Centre in Allergic Mechanisms of Asthma, King’s College London, UK; Department of Paediatric Allergy, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK

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Keywords

Aeroallergen sensitisation; Allergic rhinitis; Asthma; Atopic dermatitis; Epicutaneous sensitisation; Food allergy; House-dust mite; Indoor allergens; Seasonal allergens; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2017;107(10):904-909. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v107i10.12418

Article History

Date submitted: 2017-09-22
Date published: 2017-09-22

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