Prevalence of pollen sensitization in younger children who have asthma

Allergy Asthma Proc. 2007 Nov-Dec;28(6):654-8. doi: 10.2500/aap.2007.28.3055.


It is commonly believed that young children are incapable of pollen sensitization; therefore, skin testing usually is not performed to these allergens. The purpose of this study was to identify the frequency of positive skin tests to outdoor allergens among younger children who have asthma. Patients who have asthma, aged 6 months to 10 years, were evaluated for pollen sensitization over a 10-year period. Skin-prick testing was performed to relevant individual aeroallergens including trees, grasses, and weeds. Testing for perennial indoor allergens such as dust mites, cats, dogs, cockroaches, and molds was performed also. A total of 687 children with asthma were evaluated. No child <12 months old was sensitized to pollens. Children between 12 and 24 months of age had a 29% incidence of pollen sensitization. Three-year-old children were as likely to be skin test positive to pollen as an indoor allergen. Notably, 49% of 3- and 4-year olds were sensitized to outdoor allergens. Primary sensitizing pollens in this age group were short ragweed, box elder, and June grass. In this population, pollen sensitization was not related to tobacco or wood smoke exposure. Although it is widely believed that young children with asthma are most commonly allergic to indoor allergens, almost 40% of our 1- to 3-year old children with asthma showed IgE-mediated sensitivity to outdoor allergens. Pediatric allergists should consider performing skin-prick testing to their local common aeroallergens in young children with asthma and seasonal symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pollen / immunology*
  • Prevalence
  • Skin Tests


  • Allergens