NEW YORK Oct 13 (Reuters) Contrary to common belief, only a minority of infants and young children with eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, go on to develop asthma, according to a report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Eczema and asthma are complex disorders brought about by an interaction of numerous genetic and environmental factors, only a few of which are known, Dr Paul L P Brand from Princess Amalia Children's Clinic, Zwolle in the Netherlands told Reuters Health. To say that eczema invariably or even usually leads to asthma is an ''oversimplification,'' he added.
Brand and colleagues conducted a review to assess the risk of asthma in children who had eczema during the first 4 years of life.
They analyzed 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 contrasts with 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 investigators say. The findings show ''on average, only 1 in 3 young children with...eczema develops asthma at the age of 6 years or older.'' REUTERS SKB AS0921