Validation of a screening questionnaire for atopy with serum IgE tests in a population of pregnant Dutch women

Clin Exp Allergy. 1998 Apr;28(4):454-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2222.1998.00254.x.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / blood
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / prevention & control*
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood*
  • Mass Screening
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Allergens
  • Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin E