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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 12, Issue 8, Pages 426-432
Original Article

Total and Specific Immunoglobulin E and Their Relationship to Respiratory Symptoms in Quebec Children and Adolescents

Benoît Levesque,1,2,3 Jean-François Duchesne,1,2 Suzanne Gingras,1 Pierre Allard,4 Edgar Delvin,4 Jacinthe Aubin,5 Marc Rhainds,1,2,3 Pierre Lajoie,1,2,3 and Pierre Ernst6

1CHUL-Centre de recherche du CHUQ, Unité de recherche en santé publique, Sainte-Foy, Canada
2Direction de santé publique de Québec, Québec, Canada
3Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Québec, Canada
4Département de biochimie, Hôpital Sainte-Justine, Canada
5Direction Santé Québec, Institut de la statistique, Canada
6Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montréal, Québec, Canada

Copyright © 2005 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Respiratory disease is a major cause of morbidity in young people. It is now recognized that atopy plays an important role in the development of chronic respiratory symptoms in children.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the determinants and consequences of serum total and specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) in a general population sample of Québec children and adolescents.

METHODS: In 1999, 2349 children and adolescents (nine, 13 or 16 years of age) who had participated in a respiratory symptom and disease questionnaire had their total IgE measured. Of these participants, a subsample of 451 children and adolescents was analyzed to detect antibodies to eight specific allergens (ie, allergens of dust mites [Dermatophagoides farinae and Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus], cat, dog, ragweed, Timothy grass, mould [alternaria] and cockroach).

RESULTS: The geometric mean of the total IgE was 44.4 U/mL among all participants. Concentrations were higher in boys and increased with age. More than 41% of the participants were sensitized to at least one specific allergen. Such sensitization was strongly associated with the occurrence of respiratory conditions and symptoms, namely asthma, wheezing and rhinitis. Family history, school location and ethnic origin had an impact on the prevalence of atopy and total IgE levels.

CONCLUSIONS: Allergic sensitization is a major determinant in the development of asthma, wheezing and rhinitis in children and adolescents in the province of Québec.