There is considerable research interest in the role of helminth infections in the development of allergic diseases. However, findings from previous studies are mixed. Existing systematic reviews of these studies are outdated. We performed a systematic review of the global literature on the association between helminth infections and development and clinical outcomes of allergic diseases.
We searched Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, ISI Web of Science, PubMed, Global Index Medicus, Scielo, KoreaMed, Google Scholar, and Lilacs for studies published up to January 2020. We included observational epidemiological studies (cohort, case-control and cross-sectional studies) of children and adults reporting associations between helminth infections and asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema and atopy. We performed random-effects meta-analysis to summarize the effect estimates.
We included 80 studies with 99,967 participants. In the meta-analyses, we did not observe an overall association between helminth infections and allergic diseases. There was, however, evidence that A. lumbricoides infections was associated with an increased risk of bronchial hyperreactivity in children (RR:1.41, 95%CI: 1.17-1.70; I=50, p for I=0.09), and was associated with an increased risk of atopy among helminth-infected adults (RR:1.37, 95%CI: 1.18-1.61; I=52, p for I=0.02). We found no study that addressed the association between helminth infection and clinical outcomes of allergic diseases. The overall strength of the underlying evidence was low to moderate.
Helminth infections may increase the risk of bronchial hyperreactivity in children and atopy in adults. Well-designed longitudinal cohorts may help clarify potential causal associations between chronic helminth infections and allergic diseases.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.