Background: Epidemiologic studies are necessary to determine the prevalence of allergic diseases. This varies widely depending on allergen preparations and patients studied.
Objective: To investigate the prevalence of atopic disease, skin test reactivity, total and specific IgE to common allergens, and other variables in a sample of students from Málaga, southern Spain.
Methods: Three hundred sixty-five students (age 17.9 +/- 1.18) were interviewed by an allergist. Skin prick tests were performed with Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Artemisia vulgaris, Plantago lanceolata, Chenopodium album, Olea europaea, Phleum pratense, Parietaria judaica, Cynodon dactylon, Alternaria tenuis, and cat dander. Total and specific IgE to D. pteronyssinus, Olea, and Parietaria were determined.
Results: Of all subjects studied, 19.9% suffered from rhinoconjunctivitis, 4.1% rhinoconjunctivitis plus asthma, 3.1% asthma alone, and 0.8% atopic dermatitis; 46.4% had a positive skin test to at least one allergen (28.2% to D. pteronyssinus, 20.4% to Olea, 13.8% to Phleum); and 43% had total IgE > 100 kU/L and 44.7% a family history of atopy. Allergic symptoms were strongly associated with skin test positivities and family allergic history. Patients with asthma or skin prick test positive had higher total IgE values than others (P < .01). There was a significant correlation between specific IgE values and wheal size in skin test.
Conclusions: Our findings confirm the high prevalence of atopic diseases, and the close relationship of skin tests reactivity (or presence of specific IgE) to allergens with symptoms of asthma and rhinitis. The presence of a family history of allergic diseases influences the development of positive skin tests and atopic illness. Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and pollen of Olea europaea were found to be the most common allergens.