The association of preterm birth with severe asthma and atopic dermatitis: a national cohort study
Asthma and atopic dermatitis are both regarded as atopic diseases. Being born too early is associated with increased risk of asthma, but some studies have indicated that the opposite might be true for atopic dermatitis. We explored in more detail the associations between preterm birth, asthma, and atopic dermatitis.
We analyzed data from Norwegian registries with prospectively collected data. All live births in Norway from 1967 through 2001 were followed through 2005 by linking the Medical Birth Registry of Norway to the National Insurance Scheme and to Statistics Norway. Only severe asthma and atopic dermatitis were registered in the National Insurance Scheme.
Of a total of 1,760,821 children, we identified 9,349 cases (0.5%) with severe asthma and 6,930 cases (0.4%) with severe atopic dermatitis. Compared with children born at term (37–41 wk gestation), preterm birth was associated with increased odds for severe asthma (odds ratio (OR) 1.7 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.6–1.8) for 32–36 wk gestation and OR 3.6 (95% CI: 3.1–4.2) for 23–31 wk) and decreased odds for severe atopic dermatitis (OR 0.9 (95% CI: 0.8–1.0) for 32–36 wk gestation and OR 0.7 (95% CI: 0.5–1.0) for 23–31 wk). Adjustment for perinatal and socio-demographic factors weakened the association between gestational age and severe asthma, while slightly strengthening the association between gestational age and severe atopic dermatitis.
Preterm birth was associated with increased risk of severe asthma and decreased risk of severe atopic dermatitis.