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17-03-2011 | Dermatology | Article

Early childhood obesity increases risk for atopic dermatitis


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MedWire News: Early and prolonged obesity in infancy significantly increases a child's risk for developing atopic dermatitis (AD), report US researchers.

This study also showed that children who are obese tend to have more severe AD requiring more frequent pediatrician visits for treatment of the condition than nonobese children with AD.

As reported in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Jonathan Silverberg (State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn) and colleagues carried out a retrospective, case-control study of 414 children and adolescents with AD (aged 1-21 years) and 828 similarly aged, healthy controls to assess links between early obesity and AD.

The team found that obesity before, but not after, the age of 5 years was linked to a significantly increased risk for developing AD. Children who were obese before the age of 2 years and between the age of 2 and 5 years had significant 15.10- and 2.58-fold increased risks for AD, respectively, compared with their nonobese peers.

Silverberg and co-authors also noted that the effects of early obesity on AD risk were only significant if the child was obese for at least 2.5 years. Children who were obese for between 2.5 and 5.0 years had a significant 2.64-fold increased risk for AD and those who were obese for 5.0 years or more had a 3.40-fold increased risk.

Among the children with AD, those who were obese were 2.37-fold more likely to have severe AD than normal weight children. They also required 2.22-fold more pediatrician visits than nonobese AD patients.

"The findings of the present study suggest that the epidemic of obesity in the United States might be contributing to the increased prevalence of AD," write the authors.

They conclude that "aggressive intervention for weight loss early in childhood might be an important strategy for the prevention and management of atopic dermatitis and other atopic diseases."

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

By Helen Albert

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