May 15, 2006 -- Babies who have rashes on their arms and
joints in the first 18 months of life may be more likely to develop atopic
Lisolette Brydensholt Halkjaer, MD, and colleagues report the news in the
Archives of Dermatology. Halkjaer works in Denmark at the Danish
Pediatric Asthma Centre of
Copenhagen University Hospital.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common form of eczema. In eczema, the skin is inflamed or
irritated. "Atopic" diseases are often inherited and may go along with other
allergic conditions, such as asthma and hay fever.
Halkjaer's study included 356 white babies in Copenhagen, Denmark, whose
mothers had a history of asthma. Atopic dermatitis was diagnosed in 44% of the
kids by the time they were 3 years old.
The study shows that babies who had had rashes on their arms and joints by
18 months were more likely to develop atopic dermatitis by the time they were 3
Infants' diaper rash and cheek rashes didn't
predict atopic dermatitis, the study shows.
"These observations may be useful for early prediction of AD," the
When atopic dermatitis developed, it typically started at the scalp,
forehead, ear, neck, and cheek, later spreading to the arms, legs, and other
parts of the face and body. Most cases were mild to moderate, according to the
Almost 80% of the kids with atopic dermatitis had had itchy cheek rashes. So
had more than 40% of kids not diagnosed with atopic dermatitis.
"While the cheeks were the most commonly involved region in children who
later developed AD, involvement with this region was also common in children
who did not develop AD," the researchers write. They add that "skin lesions on
the cheek are not specific for atopic dermatitis."
Earliest Reported Sign
In the study, the earliest sign of dermatitis was recorded for a 1-month-old
baby. The highest incidence rate happened in the second six months of life.
Prevalence of atopic dermatitis peaked when boys were 2 years old and when
girls were 2-and-a-half years old.
Remember, the babies that were studied may have been at higher risk of
atopic dermatitis due to their mothers' history of asthma and atopic
dermatitis. It's not clear if the results apply to babies whose mother's do not
have these conditions.
The study's funding sources included the drug companies AstraZeneca,
LEOpharma, Yamanouchi Pharma, and Pharmacia-Pfizer.
One of the researchers -- Hans Bisgaard, MD, DMSci, who works at Copenhagen
University Hospital -- reports consulting, receiving lecturers' fees, or
holding sponsored grants from the drug companies AstraZeneca, Altana,
GlaxoSmithKline, MedImmune, and Merck. Those financial disclosures are listed
in the journal.
SOURCES: Halkjaer, L. Archives of Dermatology, May
2006; vol 142: pp 561-566. WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration
with The Cleveland Clinic: "Skin Conditions: Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)." News