The association between a genetic risk score for allergy and the risk of developing allergies in childhood-Results of the WHISTLER cohort

Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2018 Feb;29(1):72-77. doi: 10.1111/pai.12824. Epub 2017 Nov 22.


Background: Several genetic variants have been associated with the susceptibility to allergic disease in adults, but it remains unclear whether these genetic variants are also associated with the onset of allergic disease early in life. The aim of this study was to develop a genetic risk score (GRS) for allergy based on findings in adults and study its predictive capacity for allergy in children.

Methods: A GRS was constructed based on 10 SNPs previously associated with allergies in adults. The GRS was tested in children who participated in a population-based newborn cohort (WHISTLER) and were followed from birth to school age. Logistic regression analysis was used to study the association between the GRS and the parental-reported allergies at age 5 (based on a reported allergy to ≥1 of the following allergens: pollen, house dust mites, or pets). A Cox regression model was used to study the association between GRS and a physician-diagnosed allergy during follow-up (allergic conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis, and eczema/dermatitis). Cohen's kappa coefficient was calculated to study the agreement between physician-diagnosed allergy and parental-reported allergy at age 5.

Results: The GRS was significantly associated with parental-reported allergy (odds ratio: 15.9, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.07-233.73) at age 5, as well as with a physician-diagnosed allergy during follow-up (hazard ratio: 1.89, 95% CI: 1.05-3.41). The overall agreement between physician-diagnosed and parental-reported allergies was 70.5% (kappa: 0.10, 95% CI: 0.03-0.18).

Conclusions: An adult-derived GRS for allergy predicts the risk of developing allergies in childhood.

Keywords: allergy; birth cohort; genetics; risk score.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity / genetics*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Factors