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Prevalence of allergy in children in relation to prior BCG vaccination and infection with atypical mycobacteria.

Journal article
Authors Inga-Lisa Strannegård
L O Larsson
Göran Wennergren
Örjan Strannegård
Published in Allergy
Volume 53
Issue 3
Pages 249-54
ISSN 0105-4538
Publication year 1998
Published at Institute for the Health of Women and Children, Dept of Paediatrics
Institute of Laboratory Medicine, Dept of Clinical Virology
Pages 249-54
Language en
Keywords BCG Vaccine, immunology, Child, Child, Preschool, Humans, Hypersensitivity, Immediate, complications, immunology, Mycobacterium Infections, Nontuberculous, complications, immunology, Mycobacterium avium, immunology, Mycobacterium scrofulaceum, immunology, Skin Tests, Surveys and Questionnaires, Th1 Cells, immunology, Vaccination
Subject categories Medical microbiology, Clinical bacteriology, Allergology, Pediatrics


By influence on the Th1/Th2 cell balance, infectious agents may affect the development of atopic allergy. In this study, we investigated whether previous BCG vaccination or infection with atypical mycobacteria might be related to the development of atopic disease. The study, which involved skin testing with mycobacteria and answers to a questionnaire for more than 6000 children in Sweden, revealed a low prevalence of allergy among BCG-vaccinated children who were immigrants or adopted from other countries. Vaccinated children born in Sweden, however, did not have significantly lower allergy prevalence than age-matched, unvaccinated children. Furthermore, the overall frequencies of skin-test reactivity to the atypical mycobacteria M. avium and M. scrofulaceum were higher rather than lower in allergic than in nonallergic children. By contrast, there was a tendency toward a lower frequency of more strongly positive skin reactions (> or = 10 mm) to mycobacteria in allergic than in nonallergic children. These findings do not support the hypothesis that early mycobacterial infections have a suppressive effect on the development of atopic disease. Earlier findings of an apparent association between atopy and lack of previous mycobacterial infection may possibly be explained by a relatively decreased ability of atopic patients to mount strong Th1 cell-mediated immune responses.

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