Predicting the atopic march: Results from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development Study
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BACKGROUND: The atopic march describes the progression from atopic dermatitis during infancy to asthma and allergic rhinitis in later childhood. In a Canadian birth cohort we investigated whether concomitant allergic sensitization enhances subsequent development of these allergic diseases at age 3 years. METHODS: Children completed skin prick testing at age 1 year. Children were considered sensitized if they produced a wheal 2 mm or larger than that elicited by the negative control to any of 10 inhalant or food allergens. Children were also assessed for atopic dermatitis by using the diagnostic criteria of the UK Working Party. At age 3 years, children were assessed for asthma, allergic rhinitis, food allergy, and atopic dermatitis. Data from 2311 children were available. RESULTS: Atopic dermatitis without allergic sensitization was not associated with an increased risk of asthma at age 3 years after adjusting for common confounders (relative risk [RR], 0.46; 95% CI, 0.11-1.93). Conversely, atopic dermatitis with allergic sensitization increased the risk of asthma more than 7-fold (RR, 7.04; 95% CI, 4.13-11.99). Atopic dermatitis and allergic sensitization had significant interactions on both the additive (relative excess risk due to interaction, 5.06; 95% CI, 1.33-11.04) and multiplicative (ratio of RRs, 5.80; 95% CI, 1.20-27.83) scales in association with asthma risk. There was also a positive additive interaction between atopic dermatitis and allergic sensitization in their effects on food allergy risk (relative excess risk due to interaction, 15.11; 95% CI, 4.19-35.36). CONCLUSIONS: Atopic dermatitis without concomitant allergic sensitization was not associated with an increased risk of asthma. In combination, atopic dermatitis and allergic sensitization had strong interactive effects on both asthma and food allergy risk at age 3 years.
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