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J Pediatr. 2013 Dec;163(6):1747-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.06.073. Epub 2013 Aug 15.

Patterns of clinical management of atopic dermatitis in infants and toddlers: a survey of three physician specialties in the United States.

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Nestle Nutrition, Florham Park, NJ; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Electronic address:



To describe atopic dermatitis (AD) management patterns in children ≤36 months old as reported by pediatricians, dermatologists, and allergists in the US.


A nationally-representative survey was administered to pediatricians (n = 101), dermatologists (n = 26), and allergists (n = 26). Main outcomes included referrals to health care professionals, suggested/ordered laboratory tests, management approach (dietary, pharmacologic, or combination of both) by age, AD location, and severity.


Significant differences were observed in referrals to healthcare professionals (P < .001). Pediatricians more frequently referred to dermatologists than allergists in mild (52.4% vs 32.0%) and moderate/severe (60.6% vs 38.1%) cases. Dermatologists referred to allergists less frequently for mild (9.1%) than moderate/severe (40.7%) AD cases. Pediatricians (59%), allergists (61.5%), and dermatologists (26.9%) reported treating at least some of their patients with AD with dietary management (infant formula change) alone (with or without emollients). Soy-based formulas were often used. For mild AD, the most commonly reported first-line pharmacologic treatments included topical emollients, topical corticosteroids, and barrier repair topical therapy/medical devices. Over 80% of physicians used a dietary and pharmacologic combination approach. Dermatologists were most likely to manage AD symptoms with a pharmacologic-only approach. AD lesion location influenced pharmacologic treatment in >80% of physicians.


Significant and distinct differences in AD treatment approach exist among physicians surveyed. Most pediatricians and allergists use formula change as a management strategy in some patients, whereas dermatologists favor a pharmacologic approach. This diversity may result from inadequate evidence for a standard approach. Consistent methods for managing AD are needed.


AD; Atopic dermatitis; EHF; Extensively hydrolyzed formula

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