The development of allergy in high-risk children

Clin Exp Allergy. 1997 Nov;27(11):1247-53.


Background: It is uncertain as to what extent the development of allergic disease in childhood is predictable during early infancy. A number of environmental factors have been suspected of increasing the risk of acquiring allergy, but the evidence is conflicting.

Objective: To observe the development of atopy and allergic disease in a cohort of high-risk children so as to determine the importance of certain environmental factors and to study the relationship between early and later manifestations.

Methods: A cohort of infants, all at high risk of allergy, was followed up from birth to the age of 7 years. In half, selected at random, cow's milk protein was avoided for 4 months. Skin-prick tests were performed and serum IgE measured in infancy and at 7 years, when an AlaTOP test was also performed.

Results: Skin sensitivity to egg in the first year of life was strongly associated with eczema, asthma, mite sensitivity and serum IgE at the age of 7 years, when mother's atopic history was associated with AlaTOP status, father's atopic history with skin sensitivity, and male sex with both. Maternal smoking during pregnancy was associated positively with IgE at 3 months and negatively with skin sensitivity at 7 years. The development of allergy was unrelated to infant feeding method or number of older siblings.

Conclusion: Allergic disease in childhood is to a large degree determined before birth or during infancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Eggs
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / etiology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / genetics
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Milk / adverse effects*
  • Milk / immunology
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin Tests


  • Immunoglobulin E