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24-03-2011 | Article

Childhood obesity increases atopic dermatitis risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Prolonged obesity in early childhood appears to increase the risk for atopic dermatitis, researchers report.

The findings suggest that "early intervention for weight loss by pediatricians might decrease the risk for atopic dermatitis," says the team led by Jonathan Silverberg, from State University of New York Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, USA.

A total of 414 children and adolescents with atopic dermatitis, aged between 1 and 12 years, participated in the study, along with over 800 children and adolescents without the skin condition.

The findings showed that obesity, defined as a body mass index above the 95% percentile, starting before 5 years of age significantly increased the risk for atopic dermatitis three to four fold, and was significantly more likely to occur in those with prolonged obesity of 2.5 years or more.

The highest risk was seen in children who were obese before the age of 2 years, for whom the risk increased 15-fold, compared with children who were not obese at this age.

"The findings of the present study suggest that the epidemic of obesity in the United States might be contributing to the increased prevalence of atopic dermatitis," note the researchers in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

"It is estimated that the prevalence of atopic dermatitis has more than doubled over the past 5 decades. Similarly, obesity has increased by more than double in children and adolescents between 1976 and 1980 and 2007 and 2008."

They also found that obese children who developed atopic dermatitis had more severe dermatitis than non-obese children with the condition, and required more frequent visits to their pediatrician in order to manage their condition.

"This study reveals atopic dermatitis as yet another harmful consequence of obesity," Silverberg and team report.

They conclude that "reversal of obesity, if caught early, by means of aggressive weight loss intervention might be an important strategy for the prevention and treatment of atopic dermatitis."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lucy Piper