Early eczema and the risk of childhood asthma: a prospective, population-based study
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Background Severe eczema in young children is associated with an increased risk of developing asthma and rhino-conjunctivitis. In the general population, however, most cases of eczema are mild to moderate. In an unselected cohort, we studied the risk of current asthma and the co-existence of allergy-related diseases at 6 years of age among children with and without eczema at 2 years of age. Methods Questionnaires assessing various environmental exposures and health variables were administered at 2 years of age. An identical health questionnaire was completed at 6 years of age. The clinical investigation of a random subsample ascertained eczema diagnoses, and missing data were handled by multiple imputation analyses. Results The estimate for the association between eczema at 2 years and current asthma at 6 years was OR=1.80 (95% CI 1.10-2.96). Four of ten children with eczema at 6 years had the onset of eczema after the age of 2 years, but the co-existence of different allergy-related diseases at 6 years was higher among those with the onset of eczema before 2 years of age. Conclusions Although most cases of eczema in the general population were mild to moderate, early eczema was associated with an increased risk of developing childhood asthma. These findings support the hypothesis of an atopic march in the general population.