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Eczema still on the increase in developing countries
Date:1/7/2008

Experts are warning policy makers that allergic disease might replace infectious disease as a major cause of ill health in cities undergoing rapid demographic changes in developing countries.

New research tracking the number of cases of childhood eczema across the globe has revealed big changes in the prevalence of the condition over the last five to ten years and suggests that environmental factors could be having a significant impact.

Research, by a team of allergy experts across the world, has shown a levelling off in the number of cases of eczema in children aged between 13 to 14 years and a decrease in some countries like the UK and New Zealand where childhood eczema was once highly prevalent. But a continuing rise in younger children aged between six and seven and in the number of cases reported in developing countries is of growing concern.

Their paper, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, suggests environmental factors are key for eczema expression because it is highly unlikely that genetic factors would change in such a short time.

Hywel Williams, Professor of Dermato-Epidemiology in the Centre of Evidence-Based Dermatology at The University of Nottingham, who led the eczema research, says eczema needs to be tackled at a public health level in many countries.

He says that moderate or severe cases of eczema have a significant impact on family life and carry an economic burden comparable with that of asthma. Constant scratching often leads to sleep deprivation which also affects carers as well as incurring significant financial costs.

Professor Williams and his international team analysed information from two worldwide surveys of asthma and allergy symptoms in children which was carried out by the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in childhood (ISAAC) between 1991 and 2001. ISAAC was formed in 1991 to facilitate research into asthma, allergic rhinitis and eczema
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Contact: Professor Hywel Williams
hywel.williams@nottingham.ac.uk
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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