Atopic allergy is effected by a number of environmental exposures, such as dry air and time spent outdoors, but there are few estimates of the prevalence in populations from sub-arctic areas.
To determine the prevalence and severity of symptoms of food, inhalation and skin-related allergens and coeliac disease (CD) in the sub-arctic region of Sweden. To study the correlation between self-reported allergy and allergy test results. To estimate the heritability of these estimates.
The study was conducted in Karesuando and Soppero in Northern Sweden as part of the Northern Sweden Population Health Study (n=1,068). We used a questionnaire for self-reported allergy and CD status and measured inhalation-related allergens using Phadiatop, food-related allergens using the F×5 assay and IgA and IgG antibodies against tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG) to indicate prevalence of CD.
The prevalence of self-reported allergy was very high, with 42.3% reporting mild to severe allergy. Inhalation-related allergy was reported in 26.7%, food-related allergy in 24.9% and skin-related allergy in 2.4% of the participants. Of inhalation-related allergy, 11.0% reported reactions against fur and 14.6% against pollen/grass. Among food-related reactions, 14.9% reported milk (protein and lactose) as the cause. The IgE measurements showed that 18.4% had elevated values for inhalation allergens and 11.7% for food allergens. Self-reported allergies and symptoms were positively correlated (p<0.01) with age- and sex-corrected inhalation allergens. Allergy prevalence was inversely correlated with age and number of hours spent outdoors. High levels of IgA and IgG anti-tTG antibodies, CD-related allergens, were found in 1.4 and 0.6% of participants, respectively. All allergens were found to be significantly (p<3 e–10) heritable, with estimated heritabilities ranging from 0.34 (F×5) to 0.65 (IgA).
Self-reported allergy correlated well with the antibody measurements. The prevalence of allergy was highest in the young and those working inside. Heritability of atopy and sensitization was high. The prevalence of CD-related autoantibodies was high and did not coincide with the self-reported allergy.