Atopic dermatitis and asthma: what’s the association with child behaviour?

  • Ballardini N & al.
  • Clin Exp Allergy
  • 13 May 2019

  • curated by Sarfaroj Khan
  • UK Clinical Digest
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  • The risk for concomitant hyperactivity/inattention and emotional disorders were higher in children with atopic dermatitis (AD) symptoms and children with asthma symptoms were at higher risk of having concomitant emotional problems.
  • However, AD during infancy did not predict behavioural problems later in childhood.

Why this matters

  • Findings suggest that physicians taking care of children with AD and asthma, especially when severe, should consider screening for emotional problems.

Study design

  • Secondary cohort analysis of the PROmotion of Breastfeeding Intervention Trial (PROBIT; n=17,046).
  • 11,668 children with data on behavioural strengths and difficulties, evaluated using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), and complete data on AD and asthma exposure were included.
  • Funding: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the US National Institutes of Health.

Key results

  • At 6.5 years, infantile AD was not associated with probable:
    • hyperactivity/inattention disorder (adjusted OR [aOR], 0.91; 95% CI, 0.77-1.08; P=.29),
    • emotional disorder (aOR, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.86-1.25; P=.68) and
    • conduct disorder (aOR, 1.12; 95% CI, 0.95-1.31; P=.18).
  • At 6.5 years, risk for emotional disorder was higher in children with history of:
    • AD symptoms (aOR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.62-3.12; P<.001>
    • persistent AD (aOR, 2.69; 95% CI, 1.38-5.22; P=.004) and.
    • wheeze (aOR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.07-1.96) and severe asthma (aOR, 1.93; 95% CI, 1.13-3.32; P=.02 for both).
  • In the sensitivity analysis, AD in the past year was associated with probable hyperactivity/inattention disorder at 6.5 years (OR, 2.05; 95% CI, 1.09-3.84).


  • Child behaviour was measured at one time point only and at the age of 6.5 years.