Siblings and risk of allergic rhinitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Lisik D., Ermis S. S. O., Ioannidou A., Milani G. P., Nyassi S., Spolidoro G. C. I., ...More

PEDIATRIC ALLERGY AND IMMUNOLOGY, no.7, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/pai.13991
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, Food Science & Technology Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: No


Following the "hygiene hypothesis" and the increase in the prevalence of atopic diseases such as allergic rhinitis, a plethora of studies have investigated the role of sibship composition as a protective factor, but findings are conflicting. The aim of this study was to synthesize the global literature linking birth order and sibship size (number of siblings) to the risk of allergic rhinitis. Fifteen databases were systematically searched, with no restrictions on publication date or language. Observational studies with defined sibship composition (birth order or sibship size) as exposure and allergic rhinitis or allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (self-reported or clinically diagnosed) as outcome were eligible. Study selection, data extraction, and quality assessment were performed independently in pairs. Relevant data were summarized in tables. Comparable numerical data were analyzed using meta-analysis with robust variance estimation (RVE). Seventy-six reports with >2 million subjects were identified. Being second- or later-born child was associated with protection against both current (pooled risk ratio [RR] 0.79, 95% CI 0.73-0.86) and ever (RR 0.77, 95% CI 0.68-0.88) allergic rhinitis. Having siblings, regardless of birth order, was associated with a decreased risk of current allergic rhinitis (RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.83-0.95) and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (RR 0.92, 95% CI 0.86-0.98). These effects were unchanged across age, time period, and geographical regions. Our findings thus indicate that primarily, a higher birth order, and to a lesser extent the number of siblings, is associated with a lower risk of developing allergic rhinitis.