Impacts of long-term ragweed pollen load and other potential risk factors on ragweed pollen allergy among schoolchildren in Hungary
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Doctoral School of Pathological Sciences, Semmelweis University, School of Ph.D. studies, Pathological Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
National Institute of Public Health, Department of Climate Change and Health Effect, Budapest, Hungary
Free lancer in biostatistical area, Ócsa, Hungary
National Institute of Public Health, Public Health Directorate, Budapest, Hungary
Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Institute of Mathematics, Budapest, Hungary
National Institute of Public Health, Department of Air Hygiene and Aerobiology, Budapest, Hungary
National Institute of Public Health, Department of Environmental Epidemiology, Budapest, Hungary
Introduction and objective:
Hungary is one of the areas in Europe most infected with ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) and its pollen, and is the most important cause of seasonal allergic rhinoconjunctivitis in the country. The aim of the study was to investigate the association between ragweed pollen allergy and long-term ragweed pollen load, as well as analysis of the the impacts of additional potential risk factors on health outcomes.

Material and methods:
A modified version of standardized questionnaires, based on the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood, were completed by the parents of schoolchildren aged 8 – 9 attending 3rd grade classes throughout the country. Pollen load was calculated for each settlement from daily ragweed pollen concentrations monitored by 19 monitoring stations in the country. Descriptive and analytical statistical methods were applied.

At national level there was a significant inverse association between prevalence of ragweed allergy and its pollen load, but significance was lost after excluding data from Budapest, the capital city, due to the impact of urbanization. In the adjusted model, parental atopic disease was the strongest risk factor (either parent had atopic disease aOR=2.60; 95% CI=2.31–2.93 or both parents had atopic disease aOR=4.56; 95% CI=3.71–5.60). Further significant risk factors were male gender (aOR=1.52; 95% CI=1.36–1.71), lower respiratory infection in the first two years of life (aOR=1.91; 95% CI=1.70–2.16), and unshared children’s room (aOR=1.22; 95% CI=1.09–1.37). Allergy was significantly less common among children whose parents received social aid (aOR=0.83; 95% CI=0.72–0.97) and whose mother smoked during pregnancy (aOR=0.80; 95% CI=0.64–0.99).

Higher ragweed pollen exposure was not found to be associated with higher risk of ragweed allergy.

Krisztina Vörös   
Doctoral School of Pathological Sciences., Semmelweis University, School of Ph.D. studies, Pathological Sciences, Üllői út 26,1085, Budapest, Hungary Phone number: +361 2667483, Sporttelep utca 13, 1046 Budapest, Hungary
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