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Allergy. 2018 Mar;73(3):696-704. doi: 10.1111/all.13320. Epub 2017 Nov 24.

The prevalence of atopic dermatitis beyond childhood: A systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies.

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Program for Clinical Research, Department of Dermatology, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, CA, USA.
Faculty of Epidemiology & Population Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.



There are sparse and conflicting data regarding the long-term clinical course of atopic dermatitis (AD). Although often described as a childhood disease, newer population-based estimates suggest the prevalence of pediatric and adult disease may be similar.


Our objective was to determine whether there is a decline in the prevalence of AD in population-based cohorts of patients followed longitudinally beyond childhood. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis including studies assessing AD prevalence across 3 or more points in time. The primary outcome was weighted overall risk difference (percentage decrease in AD prevalence).


Of 2080 references reviewed, 7 studies with 13 515 participants were included. Participants were assessed at 3-6 time points, ranging from age 3 months to 26 years. The percentage decrease in prevalence after age 12 was 1%, which was not significantly different from zero (95% confidence interval -2%-5%). Similar results were found with other age cut-offs.


The prevalence of AD in longitudinal birth cohort studies is similar in childhood and adolescence/early adulthood.


atopic dermatitis; atopic eczema; eczema; natural history; prevalence

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