Genetic and environmental influences on cord blood serum IgE and on atopic sensitisation in infancy

S Afr Med J. 1990 Jan 6;77(1):7-13.


It has recently been reported that cord blood serum IgE (CBsIgE) concentrations in a black Third-World cohort were significantly higher than those in a similar cohort of white and coloured newborns, and were not influenced by an atopic family history (aFH). This study reports on the 1-year follow-up of these newborns carried out to determine whether statistical differences in median CBsIgE values at birth could be found between infants in each ethnic group who subsequently developed clinical atopy in the first year of life and those who remained healthy. The infants were seen at 3, 7 and 12 months of age. At each visit a detailed history was taken from the mothers, the infants were examined clinically for the presence of atopic disease and blood was taken for immunological assay (total serum IgE by paper-disc radio-immunosorbent testing, and radio-allergosorbent testing for egg-white, cow's milk and Dermatophygoides pteronyssinus). A combination of clinical and immunological variables was assessed in order to categorise the infants into 'atopic' or 'not atopic' groups at the end of the 1-year follow-up period. The black infants who completed the study had the lowest incidence of aFH (16%), but 64% of them developed atopic disease during infancy. The median CBsIgE values for the black infants who became atopic were lower than, but not statistically different from, those for the group who remained non-atopic (P = 0.57). The white and coloured infants who completed the study had 81.6% and 30.4% incidences of aFH respectively, with 47.4% and 58.7% respectively developing atopic disease during infancy.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Black People*
  • Fetal Blood / analysis*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • White People


  • Immunoglobulin E