Background: Atopic sensitization is a well-known risk factor for asthma and bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR). Mites have been regarded as the most important allergens, but the prevalence of sensitization to mites is relatively low in Sweden.
Objective: The aim of the study was to investigate possible associations between sensitization to various allergens and asthma and BHR in adults.
Methods: A random sample of 1859 subjects, aged 20 to 46 years, was investigated in a cross-sectional study by using a questionnaire, skin prick tests (SPTs), specific and total IgE measurements, and methacholine bronchial challenge tests. Possible associations were analyzed univariately and by using multivariate logistic regression analysis and proportional hazard regression analysis.
Results: Positive SPT and specific IgE results were more common in subjects with asthma and BHR than in subjects without these conditions for all allergens. The independent associations between positive SPT responses and asthma and BHR are given as adjusted prevalence ratios (PRRs): pets and asthma, PRR = 3.6; pets and BHR, PRR = 2.0; grass and asthma, PRR = 2.0; grass and BHR, PRR = 1.7; mites and asthma, PRR = 1.4; and mites and BHR, PRR = 1.2. The use of specific IgE measurements instead of SPTs showed essentially similar results.
Conclusion: Cats and dogs were the sensitizing allergens most closely associated with asthma and BHR. The relationships with sensitization to grass and mites were less pronounced.