Background The increase in the incidence of atopic dermatitis (AD) in developed countries has been related to familiar and environmental factors. This survey was undertaken to investigate the family background, birthweight and the home environment of children suffering from AD in order to point out the possible factors that provoke the development of the disease.
Methods The study uses data collected by means of self-administered questionnaires and discusses 461 cases of children (age 0–12) with active skin signs of AD. The control group comprised of 343 children (age 0–12) with no skin signs or positive lifetime history of AD. Associations between familiar and various home environmental factors and the risk of AD were calculated by means of odds ratios.
Results There were statistically significant positive associations between atopic eczema symptoms and higher birthweight, small households, wall-to-wall carpets, as well as indoor-kept pets. Day-nursery attendance, heating system and indoor smoking, however, did not significantly alter the risk of the disease.
Conclusions Because of the limitations of a retrospective questionnaire study, further research is needed to confirm these associations and clarify whether they are causative.