Role of parental atopy in cow's milk allergy: a population-based study

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Apr;110(4):279-83. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.01.017. Epub 2013 Feb 14.


Background: A family history of atopy has been considered an independent risk factor for atopic diseases in children.

Objective: To relate the risk of an infant developing IgE-mediated cow's milk allergy (IgE-CMA) to the atopic status of parents.

Methods: Assessment of the parental atopic status of children with IgE-CMA (n = 66) previously identified in a large-scale prospective study was compared with the parental atopic status of a control group of healthy infants (n = 156). The atopic status was identified both by self-reporting and skin prick tests (SPTs).

Results: Analysis for the risk for infants to develop IgE-CMA depended on the assessment method used. No significant differences were noted in self-reported parental atopic status between the IgE-CMA patients and the control group. However, among the subgroup of infants with persistent IgE-CMA (n = 25), maternal but not paternal self-reporting for atopy was more likely compared with parents of the control group (P = .04). In contrast, when analyzed by SPT, in both this persistent subgroup and the total allergic cohort, no significant differences were noted whether analyzed by single parent or both parents and whether the parent tested singly or multiply positive on the SPT.

Conclusion: In families with children with persistent IgE-CMA, self-reporting of atopy by parents may be biased. Furthermore, the demonstration of IgE-mediated responses to allergens in parents is insufficient by itself, in a general population cohort, to predict which infants are at greatest risk of developing IgE-CMA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate* / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate* / epidemiology
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Parents*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Tests


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E