Author(s): Wickman M, Nordvall SL, Pershagen G, Sundell J, Schwartz B
House dust mite (Hdm) infestation used to be rare in Stockholm, but Hdm-sensitized children are now frequently observed, which probably indicates an increased infestation rate. This study was performed to elucidate determinants of Hdm sensitization in children living in the area. In a case-control study, 53 Hdm-sensitized children (cases), a group of non-Hdm-sensitized atopic children (N = 54), and a group of nonallergic neighborhood children (N = 53) were included. Mattress dust was analyzed with ELISA for content of Hdm allergens. Indoor humidity and temperature were measured, and questionnaire data were collected. Asthma was significantly more common in the Hdm-sensitized group than in the atopic control group. Hdm allergens were found in 40%, 19%, and 23% of the dust samples of the case group, atopic group, and neighborhood control groups, respectively. Only 15% of the dust samples of the Hdm-sensitized children contained Hdm allergens above the recommended threshold levels of sensitization of 2000 ng/gm of dust. Inadequate ventilation, which partly appeared to be a consequence of energy saving, appeared to be a risk factor for Hdm sensitization. This result may apply also to other temperate regions and suggests that the problem is preventable.