The prevalence of atopic dermatitis in children is influenced by their parents’ education: results of two cross-sectional studies conducted in Upper Austria

Authors


Prof. Gerald Haidinger, MD, Department of Epidemiology, Centre of Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Tel.: +43 1 4277 65183
Fax: +43 1 4277 65198
E-mail: gerald.haidinger@meduniwien.ac.at

Abstract

Weber AS, Haidinger G. The prevalence of atopic dermatitis in children is influenced by their parents’ education: results of two cross-sectional studies conducted in Upper Austria. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2010: 21: 1028–1035.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is an important health problem worldwide. Several studies have shown that a positive family history is a strong risk factor. We studied the prevalence of AD among 23,583 Austrian school children and examined the association between the prevalence of AD in children and their parents’ education at two points in time. As part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergy in Childhood programme, two cross-sectional studies were conducted in Upper Austria (Federal State of Austria) between the years 1995–97 (Phase I) and 2001–03 (Phase III). All pupils of pre-school classes and of first and second grade of all elementary schools in seven districts of Upper Austria received standardized questionnaires, resulting in a total of 13,399 (Phase I) and 13,731 (Phase III) children. All variables examined concerning AD showed an increase in prevalence in the age group examined: During the first study, 9.6% of the children ever had eczema diagnosed by a doctor (Phase III: 13.3%), whereas 9.2% ever had symptoms of AD (Phase III: 11.0%). In Phase I, 6.0% of the children had an itchy rash in the past 12 months (Phase III: 6.7%). In both studies, high parental education (i.e. high school or university degree) was an independent statistically significant risk factor for eczema in the child, resulting in an adjusted Odds Ratio between 1.13 and 1.37. In a census-like-survey, we are able to demonstrate a statistically significant association between parental education and the prevalence of AD in their children, which is independent of a possible parental AD.

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