Background: Eczema phenotypes based on eczema onset and persistence might better identify groups prone to allergic and respiratory conditions than a binary definition of eczema. We examined the associations of childhood eczema phenotypes with allergic sensitization, allergy, asthma and lung function at school age.
Methods: This study among 4277 children was embedded in a multi-ethnic population-based prospective cohort study. Five eczema phenotypes (never, early transient, mid-transient, late transient, persistent) based on parental-reported physician-diagnosed eczema from age 6 months until 10 years were identified. At age 10 years, allergic sensitization was measured by skin prick tests, physician-diagnosed allergy and asthma by parent-reported questionnaires, and lung function by spirometry. Adjusted linear, logistic and multinomial regression models were applied.
Results: Compared with never eczema, all eczema phenotypes were associated with increased risks of asthma (odds ratios (OR) range (95% confidence interval): 2.68 (1.58, 4.57) to 11.53 (6.65, 20.01)), food and inhalant allergic sensitization (1.72 (1.25, 2.36) to 12.64 (7.20, 22.18)), and physician-diagnosed inhalant allergy (1.92 (1.34, 2.74) to 11.91 (7.52, 18.86)). Strongest effect estimates were observed of early and persistent eczema with the risk of physician-diagnosed food allergy (OR 6.95 (3.76, 12.84) and 35.05 (18.33, 70.00), respectively) and combined asthma and physician-diagnosed allergy (7.11 (4.33, 11.67) and 29.03 (15.27, 55.22), respectively). Eczema phenotypes were not associated with lung function measures.
Conclusion: Eczema phenotypes were differentially associated with risks of respiratory and allergic conditions in school-aged children. Children with early transient and persistent eczema might benefit from more intense follow-up for early identification and treatment of asthma and allergies.