Background: We have started a large birth cohort study in which pregnant women with and without atopy are differentially included. In view of the large number of subjects to be screened (12000), a simple questionnaire was developed for the assessment of atopy in pregnant women.
Objective: The objective of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of a questionnaire using serum IgE tests.
Methods: During a antenatal visit to the midwife clinic, 175 expecting mothers completed a questionnaire and from each subject blood was obtained in which total and specific IgE against house dust mite, cat, dog, birch and grass was determined.
Results: When atopy was defined as the presence of a positive test for IgE against at least one allergen, seven questions from the questionnaire had a sensitivity and specificity of 55.0% and 88.7%, respectively. With the use of the questionnaire it was possible to select about 50% of the subjects with specific IgE to one or more common inhalant allergens. The positive predictive value of the screening questions was 71.7%. Taking total IgE into account did not change these results.
Conclusion: The screening questionnaire is an efficient tool for differential inclusion of subjects with and without atopy in epidemiological studies.