The association between helminth infections and childhood atopic diseases remains controversial. The majority of studies have been carried out in tropical areas, whereas less information is available from western countries with low intensity of helminth infections. In the Netherlands, the infection of pigs with Ascaris suum is very common, particularly on pig farms with outdoor facilities. This helminth can also infect humans, causing visceral larva migrans. This study aims at determining the prevalence of antibodies against A. suum and its association with allergic symptoms and sensitisation in a population of 4-year-old children living in the Netherlands. Blood samples from 629 children from the prospective birth cohort Prevention and Incidence of Asthma and Mite Allergy (PIAMA) study were examined for Ascaris antibodies. Data on allergic symptoms and sensitisation were collected using questionnaires and radioallergosorbent tests (RAST). A total of 45 out of 629 (7%) were found to be Ascaris-seropositive. In addition, a positive association between Ascaris seropositivity and wheeze in the last year, doctor-diagnosed asthma and food and aero-allergen sensitisation was found. These results support the hypothesis that low-level or transient infection with helminths enhances allergic reactivity.

doi.org/10.1007/s10096-009-0785-6, hdl.handle.net/1765/16732
European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases: an international journal on pathogenesis, diagnosis, epidemiology, therapy, and prevention of infectious diseases
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Pinelli, E, Willers, S.M, Hoek, D, Smit, H.A, Kortbeek, L.M, Hoekstra, M.O, … Brunekreef, B. (2009). Prevalence of antibodies against Ascaris suum and its association with allergic manifestations in 4-year-old children in the Netherlands: the PIAMA birth cohort study. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases: an international journal on pathogenesis, diagnosis, epidemiology, therapy, and prevention of infectious diseases, 28(11), 1327–1334. doi:10.1007/s10096-009-0785-6