Background: Asthma in bakery workers is one of the most frequently occurring forms of occupational asthma in the world. Experience from other countries has shown the prevalence of sensitization (IgE) to bakery-associated allergens (BAAs) (wheat [W], flour dust [FD], alpha-amylase [AA]) in bakery workers to be 5% to 53%, whereas the prevalence in nonoccupationally exposed individuals was estimated to be 1.2% to 6.4%.
Objective: To estimate the prevalence of BAA sensitization by measuring BAA specific IgE in the residual serum tubes of volunteer blood donors.
Methods: Serum samples from 534 volunteer blood donors were measured for anti-W, anti-FD, and anti-AA specific IgE antibodies (in duplicate) using the AlaSTAT microplate assay. Samples with BAA IgE concentrations of 0.35 kU/L or greater were considered positive.
Results: Nineteen of 530 serum samples (3.6%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.3%-3.9%) were positive for W (range, 0.38-3.61 kU/L), whereas 31 of 534 (5.8%; 95% CI, 5.3%-6.3%) were positive for FD (range, 0.35-2.34 kU/L) and 5 of 529 (1.0%; 95% CI, 0.9%-1.1%) were positive for AA (range, 0.38-1.59 kU/L). Thirteen serum samples were positive for both W and FD; 1 sample each was positive for W and AA and FD and AA.
Conclusions: The prevalence of IgE sensitization in serum samples from a relatively large unselected population of volunteer blood donors is 1.0% for AA, 3.6% for W, and 5.8% for FD, which agrees well with data from other countries for sensitization prevalence rates for nonoccupationally exposed individuals.