Atopic Dermatitis Linked to Shorter Stature in Early Childhood

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Associations of atopic dermatitis with height and BMI decreased by age 14 and 5.5 years, respectively

THURSDAY, Nov. 18, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Atopic dermatitis is associated with shorter stature, higher body mass index (BMI), and lower weight in early childhood, according to a study published online Nov. 17 in JAMA Dermatology.

Matthew N. Nicholas, M.D., from the University of Toronto, and colleagues examined the associations of atopic dermatitis with height, BMI, and weight throughout childhood in a longitudinal cohort study. Children ages 5 years or younger were followed into adolescence from June 2008 to February 2021. The analysis included 10,611 children who were followed for a median of 28.5 months.

The researchers found that 17.3 percent of children had atopic dermatitis during follow-up. Compared with children without atopic dermatitis, there were associations seen for atopic dermatitis with lower length-for-age z score, higher BMI z score, and lower weight-for-age z score (−0.13, 0.05, and −0.07, respectively). With age, the associations between atopic dermatitis and height and BMI varied, decreasing by age 14 and 5.5 years, respectively. After adjustment for covariates, children with versus those without atopic dermatitis were 0.5 cm shorter with 0.2 more BMI units at age 2 years, and they were 0.6 cm shorter with no difference in BMI at age 5 years. With respect to weight, there was no evidence of an interaction between atopic dermatitis and age.

“Prospective studies with longer time horizons are needed to measure longer-term associations and to evaluate the potential mediating effects of atopic dermatitis disease severity, associated sleep disturbance, and treatment,” the authors write.

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