Sensitization and exposure to indoor allergens as risk factors for asthma among patients presenting to hospital

Am Rev Respir Dis. 1993 Mar;147(3):573-8. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm/147.3.573.


To investigate the role of indoor allergens in adult patients with acute asthma, we conducted a case-controlled study on patients presenting to an emergency room. One hundred and fourteen patients and 114 control subjects were enrolled over a 1-yr period in Wilmington, Delaware. Sera were assayed for total IgE, and for IgE antibodies to dust mites, cat dander, cockroach, grass pollen, and ragweed pollen. Dust was obtained from 186 homes and assayed for dust mite, cat, and cockroach allergens. IgE antibodies to mite, cat, and cockroach were each significantly associated with asthma, and this association was very strong among participants without medical insurance and among African Americans. Among 99 uninsured participants, sensitization to one of the indoor allergens (> 200 RAST units) was present in 28 of 57 asthmatics and in one of 42 control subjects (odds ratio, 39; confidence interval, 9.4 to 166). For cat and cockroach the combination of sensitization and presence of allergen in the house was significantly associated with asthma. Furthermore, there was a strong inverse relationship between IgE antibodies to cat and to cockroach, and the risk of this sensitization was in large part restricted to homes or areas with high levels of allergen. Thirty-eight percent of the asthmatics, but only 8% of the control subjects, were allergic to one of the three indoor allergens, and had high levels of the relevant allergen in their houses (odds ratio, 7.4; confidence interval, 3.3 to 16.5).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Air Pollution, Indoor / analysis
  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Allergens / analysis
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Delaware / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization*
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poverty Areas
  • Risk Factors
  • Suburban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin E