Background: Factors predicting allergic sensitization in the first 6 months of life are poorly understood. We aimed to determine whether eczema, dry skin, and high transepidermal water loss (TEWL) at 3 months were associated with allergic sensitization at 6 months of age and, secondarily, to establish whether these characteristics predicted sensitization from 3 to 6 months of age.
Methods: At 3 months of age, 1,994 infants from the population-based PreventADALL birth cohort in Norway and Sweden were assessed for eczema and dry skin on the cheeks and/or extensors; impaired skin barrier function, defined as TEWL in the upper quartile (>9.4 g/m2 /h), and allergen-specific IgE levels <0.1 kUA /L, available in 830. At 6 months, we assessed allergic sensitization to any food (egg, cow's milk, peanut, wheat, soy) or inhalant (birch, timothy grass, dog, and cat) allergen by a skin prick test wheal diameter ≥2 mm larger than negative control.
Results: Any sensitization was found in 198 of the 1,994 infants (9.9%), the majority to food allergens (n = 177, 8.9%). Eczema, dry skin, and high TEWL at 3 months increased the risk of sensitization at 6 months; adjusted odds ratios 4.20 (95% CI 2.93-6.04), 2.09 (95% CI 1.51-2.90) and 3.67 (95% CI 2.58-5.22), respectively. Eczema predicted sensitization with 55.6% sensitivity and 68.1% specificity; dry skin with 65.3% sensitivity and 57.3% specificity; and high TEWL with 61.7% sensitivity and 78.1% specificity.
Conclusion: Eczema, dry skin, and high TEWL at 3 months predicted allergic sensitization at 6 months of age.
Keywords: PreventADALL; allergic sensitization; infancy; skin barrier.
© 2021 The Authors. Allergy published by European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.