Atopic dermatitis is a strong precursor to food allergies

Sunday, February 6, 2011

WASHINGTON - Increasing evidence indicates that atopic dermatitis is a precursor to allergic diseases rather than a consequence. And now, dermatologists are advising parents of infants and young children affected by this common skin condition to be aware of the potential for future food allergies.

Atopic dermatitis, one of the most common forms of eczema in this family of inflammatory skin diseases, is a chronic disease marked by red, cracked and itchy skin.

“In most cases, 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,” said Dr. Jon M. Hanifin, professor of dermatology at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

A recent five-year multi-center study conducted by Hanifin and others in babies age three to 18 months found that even in reported mild cases of atopic dermatitis, roughly 15 percent of infants had definite food allergies. Hanifin further explained that patients with more severe cases of atopic dermatitis generally have a higher incidence of developing food allergies.

Although this study and others confirm the strong correlation between atopic dermatitis and food allergies, proper testing for a food allergy - as recommended in the new guidelines - is critical in determining if an actual food allergy exists.

Speaking at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), dermatologist Hanifin, discussed the link between atopic dermatitis and food allergies. (ANI)

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