Background. Differences in concentrations of antibodies to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in atopic and nonatopic children have been observed, suggesting that EBV infection may play a role in allergic diseases.
Aim. To assess the association between EBV infection and atopy in Swedish children at 4 years of age.
Materials and methods. Were studied 2561 children born in 1994 through 1996 in Stockholm, Sweden. The children were enrolled in a prospective birth cohort study focusing on the relation of exposure to various environmental and life style factors during early childhood and development of atopy. Blood samples were obtained when the children were ∼4 years old, and immunoglobulin G to EBV was determined by indirect immunofluorescence. The relationship between the seroprevalence to EBV and various allergic disorders was assessed, withthe use of logistic regression analysis to account for other risk factors.
Results. Totally 1347 of 2561 (52%) children were EBV-seropositive. Associations between EBV seropositivity and the occurrence of asthma [adjusted odds ratio (ORadj), 1.10; 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.81 to 1.49] or suspected allergic rhinitis (ORadj 0.97; 95% CI 0.76 to 1.25) were not apparent. In children whose mothers were up to 25 years old, a higher EBV seroprevalence was observed than in children of older mothers (ORadj 1.34; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.71). Also in children whose mothers smoked, the seroprevalence was higher than in children of nonsmokers (ORadj 1.29; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.63).
Conclusions. The study does not support the hypothesis that EBV infection in early childhood plays an important role in the pathogenesis of allergic diseases in children.
From the Institute of Environmental Medicine (AS, FL, GP, MW) and the Swedish Institute for Infectious Diseases Control and Microbiology and Tumorbiology Center (AL), Karolinska Institute, the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and the Stockholm County Council (GP, MW), Stockholm, Sweden; and the Department of Epidemiology, Mechnicov State Medical Academy, St. Petersburg, Russia (AS).
Accepted for publication April 2, 2003.
Address for reprints: Annika Linde, Department of Virology, Swedish Institute for Infectious Diseases Control, SE-171 82 Solna, Sweden. Fax +46 8 27 22 31; E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.