Moreover, the younger the child with eczema, the greater the increased risk for an ADHD diagnosis.
And the ADHDed diagnosis carries a significant economic impact: The cost of medical care for patients who are dually diagnosed can be almost twice as much.
Dermatologists attending the 61st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, where the new research was presented, were both intrigued and puzzled by the finding.
Alan B. Fleischer Jr., MD, professor and acting chairman of dermatology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., says, "This is the single study that I was most curious about when we first received the poster abstracts. Clearly this is an observation that demonstrates some association, but what are we to make of this?"
John YM Koo, MD, director of the University of California, San Francisco, Dermatology Drug Research Unit, says the study is reminiscent of "earlier studies from the psychiatric literature that describe a relationship between hyperactive mind and hyperactive body." Koo, who was not involved in the study, says that mind-body theory "has been largely discarded, but this suggests that there may be some relationship."
Sophie Worobec, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Illinois in Chicago, tells WebMD that she's not surprised by the findings. She says the skin and the brain develop about the same time so there is frequently a link between "very reactive skin and very reactive minds." She says that children with eczema are often "very bright. ... I think it is useful to tell parents this. I do this all the time in my practice, and you can observe an almost immediate change in the way the parent regards the child."
She says that a very bright child with eczema presents so many challenges to both parents and teachers that there is a risk that ADHD could be overdiagnosed in such children.
The study was funded by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp.