• atopic eczema;
  • children;
  • divorce;
  • life event;
  • psychosomatic

Background:  Different lifestyle factors seem to be associated with the risk for atopic diseases and some studies suggest that stress increases the risk of allergic sensitization, asthma and atopic eczema. Only few studies have investigated the association of early stressful life events and atopic eczema (AE) in children.

Subjects and Methods:  Parents of participants of the ongoing LISA birth cohort study were asked to give information on life events, such as severe disease or death of a family member, unemployment, or divorce of the parents. Lifetime prevalence of AE and incidence after the assessment period for life events were compared.

Results:  Prevalence of AE until the age of 4 years was 21.4%. Reported life events within the first 2 years were: severe disease (17.5%) or death (8.4%) of a family member, divorce/separation (3.4%), and unemployment (2.7%). Divorce/separation was associated with a significantly [odds ratio (OR) 3.59, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.69–7.66] increased and disease with a significantly (OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.13–0.68) decreased incidence of AE for the subsequent 2 years of life. No effect was seen for unemployment.

Conclusions:  Divorce/separation of the parents and severe disease of a family member influence the risk of developing AE.