Alternaria as a major allergen for asthma in children raised in a desert environment

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997 Apr;155(4):1356-61. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.155.4.9105079.


The relationships of asthma and allergic rhinitis with individual immediate skin test responses were examined for preferential associations and for changes with age in children raised in a semiarid environment. Prevalence of physician-diagnosed asthma was 9.8% at age 6 (n = 948) and 15.5% at age 11 (n = 895). Immediate skin test responses to Bermuda grass were the most prevalent among children with allergic rhinitis and control subjects, whereas responses to the mold, Altenaria alternata, were the most prevalent among asthmatics. Skin test responses for crude house dust, Dermatophagoides farinae, and cat had low prevalences in all groups. By logistic regression, Alternaria was the only allergen independently associated with increased risk for asthma at both ages 6 and 11. Allergic rhinitis showed independent association with sensitization to Bermuda grass and mulberry tree pollen at age 11 but did not show an independent relation to any single allergen at age 6. Logistic regression further revealed that persistent asthma (diagnosed before age 6) was independently associated with Alternaria skin tests at both ages 6 and 11, whereas new asthma (diagnosed after age 6) was associated with Alternaria skin tests at age 6 but not at age 11. We conclude that Alternaria is the major allergen associated with the development of asthma in children raised in a semiarid environment and that skin test responses at age 6 are more closely linked to asthma than those at age 11.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Alternaria / immunology*
  • Antigens, Fungal / immunology*
  • Arizona / epidemiology
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Desert Climate*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / epidemiology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / etiology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic, Perennial / immunology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Tests
  • Time Factors


  • Allergens
  • Antigens, Fungal
  • Immunoglobulin E