2014 Volume 42 Issue 2 Pages 77-85
Controversy persists as to whether helminth infections cause or protect against asthma and atopy. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of helminth infection on asthma and atopy among Bangladeshi children. A total of 912 children aged 4.5 years (mean = 54.4, range = 53.5–60.8 months) participated in a cross-sectional study nested into a randomized controlled trial in Bangladesh. Ever-asthma, ever-wheezing and current wheezing were identified using the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood questionnaire. Current helminth infection was defined by the presence of helminth eggs in stools, measured by routine microscopic examination. Repeated Ascaris infection was defined by the presence of anti-Ascaris IgE ≥ 0.70 UA/ml in serum measured by the CAP-FEIA method. Atopy was defined by specific IgE to house dust mite (anti-DP IgE) ≥ 0.70 UA/ml measured by the CAP-FEIA method and/or positive skin prick test (≥ 5 mm). Anti-Ascaris IgE was significantly associated with ever asthma (odds ratio (OR) = 1.86, 95% CI: 1.14–3.04, highest vs. lowest quartile; P for trend 0.016). Anti-Ascaris IgE was also significantly associated with positive anti-DP IgE (OR = 9.89, 95% CI: 6.52–15.00, highest vs. lowest; P for trend < 0.001) and positive skin prick test (OR = 1.69, 95% CI: 1.01–2.81, highest vs. lowest, P for trend 0.076). These findings suggest that repeated Ascaris infection is a risk factor for asthma and atopy in rural Bangladeshi children. Further analysis is required to examine the mechanism of developing asthma and atopy in relation to helminth infection.