Context It has been suggested that BCG vaccination may protect against development
of allergic diseases, particularly when given just after birth. BCG vaccination
was given routinely to all infants in Greenland until 1990, when it was withdrawn
from the vaccination program. Whether this resulted in an increased prevalence
of atopy in children born after the stop of BCG vaccination is unknown.
Objective To determine whether BCG vaccination and age at BCG vaccination are
associated with development of atopy.
Design, Setting, and Participants Cross-sectional study among schoolchildren aged 8 to 16 years in 4 towns
on the northwest coast of Greenland. Participants had a blood sample drawn
and information on BCG vaccination was obtained during 2 periods, November
1998 and November 2001. A total of 1686 children (79% of available children)
participated, 1575 of whom had complete information on vaccination status.
Atopy was defined as a positive test result in an assay that tests for IgE
specific against the most common inhalant allergens in serum.
Main Outcome Measures Odds ratio (OR) of atopy in BCG-vaccinated compared with unvaccinated
children and OR according to age at vaccination.
Results The risk of atopy was the same in BCG-vaccinated compared with unvaccinated
children after adjustment for confounders (OR, 1.03; 95% confidence interval,
0.72-1.48). The risk of atopy in BCG-vaccinated children was not associated
with age at vaccination (P = .17).
Conclusions BCG vaccination administered to infants is not associated with reduced
risk of development of atopy.