Background: A family history of atopy, and cord blood immunoglobulin E concentration, have been shown to be predictors of atopic disease in children. Several studies have suggested that parental atopy may be related to newborn immunoglobulin E.
Objective: The purpose of our analysis was to evaluate whether parental history of allergic disease was associated with cord blood immunoglobulin E concentration.
Methods: The study subjects were from a defined population of 777 newborns delivered between 1987 and 1989. The mothers of these children completed a questionnaire during pregnancy concerning themselves and the child's father, including parental history of physician diagnosis of allergic diseases (allergies, hay fever and asthma). Total immunoglobulin E levels were quantitated in cord blood samples with an enzyme-linked immunoassay.
Results: Median cord blood immunoglobulin E concentration was higher among infants whose mothers had a history of atopic disease, particularly for those with a history of asthma (P < 0.022) and allergen immunotherapy (P < 0.016) vs infants whose mothers had no history of any atopic disease. Comparing all babies with a maternal history of asthma, to babies where neither parent had a history of any atopic disease, the median cord blood immunoglobulin E was significantly higher (0.36 IU/mL vs 0.21 IU/mL; P < 0.009). This association was found only among female infants (0.49 IU/mL vs 0.20 IU/mL; P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Maternal, but not paternal, history of atopic disease was associated with an elevated immunoglobulin E among newborns. For maternal asthma, this association was only evident in infant girls.