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How eczema leads to asthma

Friday July 11th, 2008

Researchers have found an increased risk of asthma in later life among children with eczema - highlighting the benefits of identifying allergies early in life.

Dr John Burgess of the University of Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined the links between the two conditions. They took data from three large surveys carried out in 1968, 1974, and 2004, covering more than 8,500 people up to the age of 44.

The team found that childhood eczema was "significantly associated with childhood asthma" and with asthma in adolescence and adult life. Children with eczema were 63 per cent more likely to suffer from asthma as adults.

But when people with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) were left out, the link disappeared, suggesting that allergic reactions lie behind the connection.

The experts report their findings on the website of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

They write: "Childhood eczema increased the likelihood of childhood asthma, of new-onset asthma in later life and of asthma persisting into middle age."

More aggressive treatment of childhood eczema may be an important step in preventing asthma, they add.

Dr Burgess said: "The results of our study showed childhood eczema clearly preceded asthma in each later stage of life - later childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This makes a strong argument for trialling aggressive therapies against childhood eczema to help reduce the burden of asthma later in life."

Burgess, J. A. et al. Childhood eczema and asthma incidence and persistence: A cohort study from childhood to middle age. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, published online June 24, 2008.

Books on Asthma and Allergy Care

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child & Adolescent Health | Dermatology

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