Atopic Dermatitis: Epidemiology of Atopic Dermatitis

Vincent S. Beltrani, MD, Mark Boguneiwicz, MD

Authors and Disclosures

Posted: 05/02/2003; Dermatology Online Journal. 2003;9(2) © 2003 Arthur C. Huntley, MD

Epidemiology of Atopic Dermatitis

Epidemiology concerns the occurrence and the risk factors of a disease, and epidemiologic study can influence genetic counseling and research aims. Combining diverse expertise from the fields of epidemiology and human genetics provides unique opportunities to localize disease-susceptibility genes and examine molecular mechanisms of complex disease etiology.[7]

Until diagnostic criteria are standardized, validated, and applied universally, the true prevalence of AD will continue to be imprecise, thus varying between 10% and 30%.[1] Factors contributing to the problem of determining prevalence are frequent remissions and unpredictable courses, especially in mild AD. Most of the population-based studies report that at least 80% of the AD populations have mild eczema.[8,9,10] Yet, recent studies using similar procedures and assessments demonstrate a definite trend toward the increase in AD cases in industrialized nations over the past few decades.[11,12] Newer treatment options have also changed the natural history of AD.[13]

Relatively few studies have focused on potential,initiating risk factors, but the strongest risk factor is a parental history of atopy or eczema. Maternal atopy is considered a greater risk for atopic disorders in offspring than paternal atopy.[14] AD and atopy in general seem to be diseases of the advantaged classes.[15] The prevalence of AD is inversely related to the number of siblings.[16] The larger the family size, the less the likelihood of having AD.




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