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Eczema may not necessarily lead to asthma

Contrary to common belief, only few infants and young children with atopic eczema go on to develop asthma later in life.

Eczema may not necessarily lead to asthma

Contrary to common belief, only few infants and young children with atopic eczema go on to develop asthma later in life. Eczema and asthma are complex disorders brought about by an interaction of numerous genetic and environmental factors, only a few of which are known. Researchers from the Princess Amalia Children's Clinic, Zwolle in the Netherlands conducted a review to assess the risk of asthma in children who had eczema during the first four years of life. They analysed data from 13 previous studies. The presence of eczema may have slightly increased the risk of asthma, but from a statistical standpoint, the association was weak and may have simply occurred by chance. Moreover, the findings suggest that, at most, 46 per cent of children with eczema go on to develop asthma, which contradicts earlier research suggesting that the occurrence of asthma is the rule, not the exception in these children. These estimates are considerably lower than the risk estimates provided in many review articles and medical textbooks. The findings show that, on an average, only one in three young children with eczema develops asthma at the age of six years or older. These results may have important consequences for counselling patients with atopic eczema and their parents.
Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,
September 2007
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