Results from a US study suggest that children with atopic dermatitis (AD) are at significantly increased risk for mental health disorders.
Analysing data from 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), Eric Simpson (Oregon Health and Science University, Portland) and team found that children with AD were significantly more likely to have a variety of mental health disorders than those without the skin disorder.
They also found that increased severity of AD was associated with a greater risk for mental health disorders.
Further research is needed to investigate whether "strategies to prevent AD or to aggressively treat early skin inflammation might modify the risk of mental health disorders in at-risk children," they comment in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
In total, 92,642 children participated in the 2007 NSCH, and data from 79,667 who had seen a healthcare provider during the previous year were included in the current analysis.
Overall, 13% of the study population reported a diagnosis of AD, of whom 67% had mild, 26% moderate, and 7% severe disease.
After accounting for age, gender, ethnicity, education levels, and other variables, the researchers found that participants with AD were significantly more likely than those without to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, at an odds ratio of 1.87.
The risks for depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, and autism were also significantly increased in children with AD compared with those without, at adjusted ORs of 1.81, 1.77, 1.87, and 3.04, respectively.
Furthermore, in children with AD, the odds ratios for these mental health disorders increased with increasing severity of AD.
Simpson et al conclude: "Our data reveal a striking association between mental health disorders and AD in the US pediatric population."
They add: "Prospective cohort studies are needed to verify these associations."
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