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BMJ. 2004 May 22;328(7450):1223. Epub 2004 Apr 30.

Cohort study of sibling effect, infectious diseases, and risk of atopic dermatitis during first 18 months of life.

Author information

  • 1Department of Epidemiology Research, Danish Epidemiology Science Centre, Statens Serum Institut, Denmark. cb@ssi.dk

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To determine whether early infectious diseases could explain the association between number of siblings and other markers of microbial exposure and the development of atopic dermatitis before the age of 18 months.

DESIGN:

Cohort study. Information on atopic dermatitis, infectious diseases occurring before 6 months of age, number of siblings, early day care, pet keeping, farm residence, and background factors was collected in telephone interviews.

SETTING:

Danish national birth cohort.

PARTICIPANTS:

24,341 mother-child pairs.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Incidence rate ratios of atopic dermatitis.

RESULTS:

13,070 children (54%) had at least one clinically apparent infectious disease before 6 months of age. At age 18 months, 2638 (10.8%) of the children had had atopic dermatitis. The risk of atopic dermatitis increased with each infectious disease before 6 months of age (incidence rate ratio 1.08, 95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.13). The risk of atopic dermatitis decreased with each additional exposure to three or more siblings, day care, pet ownership, and farm residence (0.86, 0.81 to 0.93).

CONCLUSIONS:

Early infections do not seem to protect against allergic diseases. The protective effect of number of siblings, day care, pet ownership, and farm residence remained after adjustment for clinically apparent infectious diseases, suggesting that the effect is established independently early in life.

Comment in

  • The defence of dirt. [BMJ. 2004]
PMID:
15121716
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC416593
Free PMC Article
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