The course of eczema in children aged 5-7 years and its relation to atopy: Differences between boys and girls

M. Möhrenschlager, T. Schäfer, J. Huss-Marp, B. Eberlein-König, S. Weidinger, J. Ring, H. Behrendt, U. Krämer

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftArtikelBegutachtung

67 Zitate (Scopus)


Background: The role of atopy in the pathophysiology of eczema is still under debate. The concept and analyses of the nonatopic and atopic subtypes of eczema have gained increasing interest in recent studies. The course of these subtypes and differences between boys and girls have not been investigated so far. Objectives: To examine the course of nonatopic and atopic eczema in preschool children from Germany with regard to sex. Methods: Repeated cross-sectional studies were performed in 5-7-year-old preschool children from Germany between 1994 and 2000. Individuals with eczema were identified by a dermatological examination. In addition to a questionnaire, skin prick tests and analyses of serum IgE antibodies against seven and five environmental allergens, respectively, were performed. Atopy was defined by sensitization to at least one of five common aeroallergens (birch, grass and mugwort pollen, house dust mites, cat dander). In part of the study population investigations of spare time behaviour and skin function were carried out (including stratum corneum hydration and skin surface pH). Results: A total of 2693 girls and 2783 boys underwent a full dermatological examination of the skin and determination of sensitization. Among the girls, 8·7% demonstrated eczema clinically at the day of investigation in contrast to 6·1% of the boys. In girls, early onset eczema (< 2 years of age) was strongly related to atopy at age 5-7 years [odds ratio (OR) 3·7; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2·7-5·1], whereas late-onset eczema (≥ 2 years of age) was not (OR 1·0; 95% CI 0·7-1·5). Boys were more often atopic at the age of 5-7 years than girls (28·3% vs. 20·6%), and early and late-onset eczema were related to atopy without such a difference (OR 2·8, 95% CI 2·0-4·0; OR 1·9, 95% CI 1·3-2·8, respectively). The excess of current eczema in 5-7-year-old girls compared with boys was related to the nonatopic type. The higher susceptibility of girls in that age group to develop eczema was reflected by the skin physiological examination: even girls without eczema had significantly higher skin surface pH and lower stratum corneum hydration than boys. Additionally, questionnaire data revealed that girls more often than boys predominantly played indoors, which was associated with more eczema. Conclusions: Atopy and eczema develop differently in boys and girls. Boys are more often atopic, whereas girls suffer significantly more often from eczema without relation to atopy. The nonatopic type of eczema in preschool girls is noticed predominantly after their second birthday. Genetic and lifestyle factors may contribute to this difference.

Seiten (von - bis)505-513
FachzeitschriftBritish Journal of Dermatology
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - März 2006


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