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Vol. 159, No. 1, 2012
Issue release date: August 2012

Sensitization to Common Ragweed in Southern Bavaria: Clinical and Geographical Risk Factors in Atopic Patients

Ruëff F. · Przybilla B. · Walker A. · Gmeiner J. · Kramer M. · Sabanés-Bové D. · Küchenhoff H. · Herzinger T.
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Background: Sensitization to common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) is associated with a variety of risk factors, which are incompletely defined. Our aim was to evaluate the association of a variety of clinical, geographical and demographical variables with ragweed sensitization and also to determine its frequency in southern Bavaria. Methods: In this cross-sectional multicentre study, we enrolled 977 patients with a documented or suspected atopic disease or food allergy. Data were collected on aeroallergen sensitization, age, sex, type and history of allergic disease, place of residence and potential local ragweed exposure. For this last variable, county ragweed cover was taken as a surrogate variable. Relative rates were calculated with multiple additive logistic regression models. Randomly selected patients with ragweed sensitization had a conjunctival provocation test. Results: According to skin prick tests, 190 patients (19.5%) were sensitized to ragweed. The frequency of this finding increased significantly with a rising number of additional sensitizations. Other less important predictors for a ragweed sensitization were male gender, mugwort sensitization, food allergy and a maximum of complaints in September or October. County of residence, extent of local ragweed cover or type of residential area were without relevance. Of 48 sensitized patients, 26 (54.2%) had a positive conjunctival provocation test. Discussion: Patients with multiple sensitizations may be more readily sensitized to a new aeroallergen. Local geographic or environmental conditions are presumably of minor importance for becoming sensitized to ragweed. The frequency of ragweed allergy among sensitized patients might be high.

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