Objective To compare the incidence, symptomatology and course of mastocytosis with onset in childhood and in adults.
Design Retrospective study of 101 patients with mastocytosis who were referred from 1980 to 1998.
Patients Medical records of 65 cases of mastocytosis with onset in childhood and 36 in adulthood were analysed. The clinical course was assessed in a subgroup consisting of 33 subjects with childhood onset who were followed up until at least adolescence and 12 subjects with adult onset who were followed up for at least 10 years.
Results The onset of the disease occurred before the age of 2 years in 50% and between the ages of 2 and 15 years in 14% of cases (childhood onset). In 36% of patients onset occurred at the age of 16 years and older (adult onset). An incidence peak of 60% was noted in the first year of life. Mast cell-mediated symptoms were not experienced by 21 of 36 adult onset mastocytosis patients nor by 27 of 65 childhood onset mastocytosis patients. Complete resolution was observed in five of 33 children. The majority of childhood onset cases (21 of 33) showed some improvement. Complete resolution was achieved in three of 12 adults. The majority of the remaining adults (eight of 12) showed no improvement.
Conclusions We confirm the incidence of onset of mastocytosis previously reported in the literature. We conclude that childhood onset mastocytosis is much less transitory than generally is assumed, although improvement occurs in the majority of cases. Symptomatology and clinical course of adult onset mastocytosis is less severe than suggested in the literature.