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Derm News: 2007.19(6)

The temporal sequence of allergic sensitization and onset of infantile eczema

Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 37(4):536-542
A. J. Lowe, M. J. Abramson, C. S. Hosking, J. B. Carlin, C. M. Bennett, S. C. Dharmage, D. J. Hill
ABSTRACT

Background

Eczema is commonly associated with sensitization in infants, but the causative role of sensitization in the development of eczema has been questioned.

Objectives

To determine if allergic sensitization increases the risk of developing eczema, or alternatively, if eczema increases the risk of developing allergic sensitization.

Methods

We used data from the Melbourne Atopy Cohort Study, a prospective birth cohort of 552 infants with a family history of atopic disease. The main outcomes were risk of developing eczema from 6 months to 7 years of age in asymptomatic infants; and risk of developing sensitization, as measured by skin prick tests to milk, egg white, peanut, house dust mite, rye grass pollen and cat extracts, in previously unsensitized infants.

Results

Sensitization to food extracts at 6 months was associated with an increased risk of developing eczema [hazard ratio (HR) 1.63, 95% confidence interval 1.13-2.35] up to 7 years of age, after excluding infants with eczema in the first 6 months. However, eczema in the first 6 months was also associated with increased risk of new sensitization at both 1 year (HR 2.34, 1.38-3.98) and 2 years (HR 3.47, 1.65-7.32).

Conclusions

In some infants, sensitization precedes and predicts the development of eczema, while in others eczema precedes and predicts the development of sensitization. This indicates that there are multiple pathways to atopic eczema.


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The Derm News service provided by the Editorial Consultants of Skin Therapy Letter© and its founding editor Dr. Stuart Maddin.