Sensitization to dust mites as a dominant risk factor for asthma among adolescents living in central Virginia. Multiple regression analysis of a population-based study

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1997 Dec;156(6):1760-4. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.156.6.9704026.


Factors influencing asthma were investigated in a population of school children in central Virginia. A survey of 1,054 children in two middle schools (one urban and one suburban) identified 135 students with symptoms suggestive of asthma. Eighty-eight symptomatic children and 123 control subjects were randomly selected for further evaluation by skin testing using common indoor and outdoor allergens; serum assays for total IgE and specific IgE; dust samples assayed for mite (Der p 1 Der f 1), cat (Fel d 1), and cockroach (Bla g 2) allergens; and provocation with histamine to test for bronchial hyperreactivity. Forty-eight of the children with symptoms responded to < or = 3.9 mumol of histamine and were considered to have asthma. Marginal analysis identified elevated total IgE and dust mite, cat, and cockroach sensitization as significant risk factors for asthma. Using multiple regression, only dust mite sensitization was independently associated with asthma (odds ratio = 6.6; p < 0.0001). Dust from 81% of the houses contained high levels of mite allergen (> 2 micrograms/g), while approximately 40% of the children were exposed to cat and 17% were exposed to cockroach allergen. In this population, there was no significant association between asthma and race, socioeconomic status, home smoking, sensitization to outdoor allergens, or allergen concentration in the child's home. In an area where there is a high prevalence of asthma and most houses contain high concentrations of dust mite allergen, sensitization to this allergen is the dominant risk factor for asthma defined as symptomatic bronchial hyperreactivity

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Allergens*
  • Animals
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Bronchial Provocation Tests
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / diagnosis
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology*
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Mites*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin Tests
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Virginia


  • Allergens
  • Immunoglobulin A