THURSDAY, Feb. 10 (HealthDay News) -- One of the most common
forms of eczema, the chronic inflammatory skin disease, may
actually precede the onset of food allergies, rather than be the
product of existing allergies, new research suggests.
This means that parents of children with the specific skin
condition, known as atopic dermatitis, should be on the lookout for
signs of food allergies in their children.
"Considering that 6 to 10 percent of children have atopic dermatitis and that up to one-third of those individuals may have documented food allergy, the number of these children affected by food allergies may be significant," Dr. Jon M. Hanifin, a dermatologist and professor at Oregon Health & Science University, said in a news release from the American Academy of Dermatology.
Hanifin presented his team's findings Feb. 4 in New Orleans at
the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Their conclusions stem from a five-year study that focused on
children aged 3 months to 18 months old who had atopic dermatitis,
which is characterized by red, cracked and itchy skin.
The researchers found that about 15 percent of the children had
food allergies, including those with the mildest form of the
disease. Children with more severe disease had a greater risk for
developing allergies, they said.
Experts note that research presented at meetings has not been
subjected to the same type of rigorous scrutiny given to research
published in peer-reviewed medical journals.
Hanifin added that people with atopic dermatitis produce
relatively large amounts of an antibody known as IgE, which
normally is generated when foreign proteins enter the bloodstream,
which is key to the onset of an allergic reaction.
However, the researchers cautioned that the true determination
of a food allergy requires careful testing with controlled
exposures to particular foods followed by a rigorous analysis of
"In most cases," Hanifin said, "patients experience atopic dermatitis before food allergies, so it is important for parents of infants and small children affected by this skin condition to be aware of the risk of food allergies."
The American Academy of Dermatology has more on