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J Invest Dermatol. 1996 May;106(5):977-81.

Analysis of familial aggregation of atopic eczema and other atopic diseases by ODDS RATIO regression models.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Erlangen, Germany.


In order to determine the relative importance of genetics and the environment on the occurrence of atopic diseases, we investigated the familial aggregation of atopic eczema, allergic rhinitis, and allergic asthma in the relatives of 426 patients with atopic eczema and 628 subjects with no history of eczema (5,136 family members in total). Analyses were performed by regression models for odds ratios (OR) allowing us to estimate OR for the familial aggregation and simultaneously to adjust for other covariates. Three models were analyzed assuming that the OR i) is the same among any two members of a family, ii) depends on different familial constellations, i.e., whether the pairs are siblings, parents, or parent/sibling pairs, and iii) is not the same between the father and the children and between the mother and the children. The OR of familial aggregation for atopic eczema was 2.16 (95% confidence interval (95%-CI) 1.58-2.96) if no distinction was made between the degree of relationship. Further analyses within the members of the family showed a high OR among siblings (OR = 3.86; 95%-CI 2.10-7.09), while the OR between parents and siblings was only 1.90 (95%-CI 1.31-2.97). Only for atopic eczema was the familial aggregation between fathers and siblings (ms: OR = 2.66; fs: OR = 1.29). This can be explained by stronger maternal heritability, shared physical environment of mother and child, or environmental events that affect the fetus in utero. Since for all atopic diseases a stronger correlation was found between siblings than between siblings and parents, our study indicates that environmental factors, especially during childhood, seem to explain the recently observed increased frequencies of atopic diseases.

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