A sex-dependent association exists between parents’ allergic conditions and their children’s risk for developing them, according to recent results.
Researchers evaluated a cohort of 1,456 children born in 1989 on the Isle of Wight in the UK, with follow-up conducted at ages 1, 2, 4, 10 and 18 years. Participants responded to questionnaires on the prevalence of conditions including asthma, eczema and rhinitis, plus the presence of environmental factors such as pets and tobacco exposure. The cohort also received skin prick tests at 4, 10 and 18 years of age, and IgE was measured when the patients were aged 10 and 18 years. The allergy histories of each patient’s parents were recorded and IgE levels were collected from 1,057 mothers shortly after childbirth.
Maternal asthma was associated with asthma in female children (Prevalence Ratio=1.91; 95% CI, 1.34-2.72) but not in males (PR=1.29; 95% CI, 0.85-1.96). Paternal asthma was associated with asthma in males (PR=1.99; 95% CI, 1.42-2.79) but not female patients (PR=1.03; 95% CI, 0.59-1.80). Similar associations were found between maternal and paternal eczema in female and male children, respectively (PR=1.92; 95% CI, 1.37-2.68 for maternal eczema and female child eczema risk, and PR=2.07; 95% CI, 1.32-3.25 for paternal eczema and male child eczema risk).
Researchers also wrote that girls were at increased risk for atopy with a maternal history of the condition (PR=1.52; 95% CI, 1.21-1.93), and that maternal IgE levels greater than 200 kU/L at birth were predictive of increased IgE levels in female participants at 10 years (PR=1.71; 95% CI, 1.16-2.51) and 18 years of age (PR=1.66; 95% CI, 1.01-2.73). The same association was not found in males (PR=1.1; 95% CI, 0.74-1.63 at 10 years; and PR=1.08; 95% CI, 0.67-1.74 at 18 years).
“Maternal asthma does not increase the risk of asthma in boys and paternal asthma has no effect on the risk of asthma in girls,” the researchers wrote. “Similar effects are observed for eczema, atopy, and, to a lesser extent, total IgE levels. This information is … important to consider when identifying children at high risk for preventive measures, [and] it should help us to understand the pathogenesis of the different patterns of childhood asthma and allergies.”