Kids' eczema 'hints at asthma later in life'

Kids' eczema 'hints at asthma later in life'

An international team, led by the University of Melbourne, has found that kids who have eczema, particularly when occurring with hay fever, are nine times more likely to develop allergic asthma in their 40s.

The study reported on evidence from a clinical research of 1,400 adults in the fifth decade follow-up of the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study which is the largest of its kind in the world.

In the TAHS, participants were assessed about their allergies and childhood environment in 1968, at seven years of age, and were followed up in 2004, at the age of 44. Lead author Pamela Martin analysed the survey and skin prick testing data collected in the clinical study for the evidence of childhood eczema and hay fever leading to adult asthma.

She said: "In this study we see that childhood eczema, particularly when hay fever also occurs, is a very strong predictor of who'll suffer from allergic asthma in adult life.

"The implications of this study are that prevention and rigorous treatment of childhood eczema and hay fever may prevent the persistence and development of asthma." According to researchers, this is the first study to distinguish between allergic and non-allergic asthma and their occurrence after childhood eczema and hay fever, as part of a sequence of allergic illnesses dubbed the "atopic march".

Co-author Prof Shyamali Dharmage said currently few interventions are trialled to halt this march from childhood allergies to asthma. "If successful strategies to stop 'atopic march' are identified, this could ultimately save lives," she wrote in 'Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology'.