House Dust Mite Exposure through Human Milk and Dust: What Matters for Child Allergy Risk?

Patricia Macchiaverni, Ulrike Gehring, Akila Rekima, Alet H. Wijga, Valerie Verhasselt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Allergies are major noncommunicable diseases associated with significant morbidity, reduced quality of life, and high healthcare costs. Despite decades of research, it is still unknown if early-life exposure to indoor allergens plays a role in the development of IgE-mediated allergy and asthma. The objective of this study is to contribute to the identification of early-life risk factors for developing allergy. We addressed whether two different sources of house dust mite Der p 1 allergen exposure during early life, i.e., human milk and dust, have different relationships with IgE levels and asthma outcomes in children. We performed longitudinal analyses in 249 mother–child pairs using data from the PIAMA birth cohort. Asthma symptoms and serum total and specific IgE levels in children were available for the first 16 years of life. Der p 1 levels were measured in human milk and dust samples from infant mattresses. We observed that infant exposure to Der p 1 through human milk was associated with an increased risk of having high levels of serum IgE (top tertile > 150 kU/mL) in childhood as compared to infants exposed to human milk with undetectable Der p 1 [adjusted OR (95% CI) 1.83 (1.05–3.20) p = 0.0294]. The Der p 1 content in infant mattress dust was not associated with increased IgE levels in childhood. The risk of asthma and Der p 1 sensitization was neither associated with Der p 1 in human milk nor with Der p 1 in dust. In conclusion, high levels of IgE in childhood were associated with Der p 1 exposure through human milk but not exposure from mattress dust. This observation suggests that human milk is a source of Der p 1 exposure that is relevant to allergy development and fosters the need for research on the determinants of Der p 1 levels in human milk.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2095
Pages (from-to)1-9
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2 May 2022


  • Asthma
  • Der p 1
  • breastmilk
  • house dust mite
  • total IgE


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