J Korean Med Sci.  2012 Apr;27(4):350-355. 10.3346/jkms.2012.27.4.350.

Changes in Sensitization Rate to Weed Allergens in Children with Increased Weeds Pollen Counts in Seoul Metropolitan Area

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. jaewonoh@hanyang.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Busan St. Maria Hospital, Busan, Korea.
  • 3Department of Pediatrics, Daegu Fatima Hospital, Daegu, Korea.
  • 4Department of Pediatrics, Gwangju Veteran's Hospital, Gwangju, Korea.
  • 5Department of Pediatrics, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Gangneung, Korea.
  • 6Department of Pediatrics, Jeonju Jesus Hospital, Jeonju, Korea.
  • 7Department of Pediatrics, Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital, Hallym University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 8Applied Meteorology Research Laboratory, National Institute of Meteorological Research, Seoul, Korea.


The prevalence of allergic diseases in children has increased for several decades. We evaluated the correlation between pollen count of weeds and their sensitization rate in Seoul, 1997-2009. Airborne particles carrying allergens were collected daily from 3 stations around Seoul. Skin prick tests to pollen were performed on children with allergic diseases. Ragweed pollen gradually increased between 1999 and 2005, decreased after 2005 and plateaued until 2009 (peak counts, 67 in 2003, 145 in 2005 and 83 grains/m3/day in 2007). Japanese hop pollen increased between 2002 and 2009 (peak counts, 212 in 2006 and 492 grains/m3/day in 2009). Sensitization rates to weed pollen, especially ragweed and Japanese hop in children with allergic diseases, increased annually (ragweed, 2.2% in 2000 and 2.8% in 2002; Japanese hop, 1.4% in 2000 and 1.9% in 2002). The age for sensitization to pollen gradually became younger since 2000 (4 to 6 yr of age, 3.5% in 1997 and 6.2% in 2009; 7 to 9 yr of age, 4.2% in 1997 and 6.4% in 2009). In conclusion, sensitization rates for weed pollens increase in Korean children given increasing pollen counts of ragweed and Japanese hop.


Plant Weeds; Pollen; Immunologic Sensitization

MeSH Terms

Child, Preschool
Republic of Korea/epidemiology
Rhinitis, Allergic, Seasonal/epidemiology/immunology
Skin Tests


  • Fig. 1 Annual weed pollen counts from 1997 to 2009 in Seoul. Weed pollen included ragweed, Japanese hop and mugwort which are common weed plants in Korea. *P < 0.05.

  • Fig. 2 Changes in annual weed pollen counts from 1997 to 2009 in Seoul. (A) Ragweed. (B) Japanese hops. (C) Mugwort. *P < 0.05.

  • Fig. 3 Annual sensitization rates to pollens from 1997 to 2009 in Seoul. *P < 0.05.

  • Fig. 4 Annual sensitization rates to ragweed, mugwort and Japanese hop. *P < 0.05 for ragweed pollen between 2000 and 2002; †P < 0.05 for Japanese hop between 2000 and 2002.

  • Fig. 5 Annual sensitization rates to weed pollen allergens according to age. Weed pollen included ragweed, Japanese hop and mugwort. *P < 0.05 between 1998 and 1999, and between 2002-2004 in 4-6 yr of age; †P < 0.05 between 1999 and 2000 in 7-9 yr of age.

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