Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2002;13(s15):47-54
University Children's Hospital, Vienna, Austria.
Several studies have demonstrated that early intervention may modulate the natural course of atopic disease. Our objective was to prevent sensitization to house-dust mite and food allergens, as well as the development of atopic symptoms during infancy, by the combination of an educational package and the use of mite allergen-impermeable mattress encasings. A multicentre European, population-based, randomized, controlled study of children at increased atopic risk [Study on the Prevention of Allergy in Children in Europe (SPACE)] was performed in five countries (Austria, Germany, Greece, the UK, and Lithuania), and included three cohorts - schoolchildren, toddlers, and newborns. We report on the newborn cohort. A total of 696 newborns were included from Austria, the UK, and Germany. Inclusion criteria were: a positive history of parental allergy; and a positive skin-prick test or specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) (IgE > or = 1.43 kU/L) against at least one out of a panel of common aeroallergens in one or both parents. At 1 year of age, the overall sensitization rate against the tested allergens [dust-mite allergens: Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae (Der p and Der f)] and food allergens (egg, milk) in the prophylactic group was 6.21% vs. 10.67% in the control group. The prevalence of sensitization against Der p was 1.86% in the prophylactic group vs. 5% in the control group. In conclusion, we were able to demonstrate, in a group of newborns at risk for atopic diseases, that the sensitization rate to a panel of aero- and food allergens could be effectively decreased through the use of impermeable mattress encasings and the implementation of easy-to-perform preventive measures.