Background: According to the 'hygiene hypothesis', an increase in microbial exposure in childhood leads to a T-helper cell 1 (Th1) predominant immune response and protection against asthma and atopic conditions. Aims: To assess the prevalence of asthma and other atopic conditions in Somali immigrants and to determine the humoral immune response to the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine viruses in Somali immigrants with asthma. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Study subjects were Somali immigrants who were born and lived in Africa during childhood and immigrated to the USA. The subjects had participated in a previous MMR vaccine study. Asthma was ascertained using predetermined asthma criteria after a thorough medical record review. An atopic condition was determined from physician-diagnosed ICD codes. Virus-specific IgG levels in response to the MMR vaccine viruses were determined using an enzyme immunoassay. Results: Of the 62 eligible subjects, 33 (53%) were female and 29 (47%) were male; 10 (16%) had asthma and 22 (35%) had other atopic conditions. There was no difference in the rubella (p=0.150) and measles (p=0.715) virus-specific IgG levels between the subjects with and without asthma. Mumps virus-specific IgG antibody levels were lower in those with asthma than in those without asthma (mean±SE 2.08±0.28 vs. 3.06±0.14, p=0.005). Conclusions: Our study results may not support the hygiene hypothesis. In addition, the previously reported abnormal T-cell development in Caucasian children with atopy can be considered even in Somali immigrants.
- Hygiene hypothesis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health