Children with eczema are at increased risk for developing allergic asthma as adults, particularly if they also suffer from hayfever, a study has found.
The results show that children with both eczema and hayfever are nine times more likely to have allergic asthma in their 40s than those without these conditions.
“The implications of this study are that prevention and rigorous treatment of childhood with eczema and hayfever may prevent the persistence and development of asthma,” said lead researcher Pamela Martin, from the University of Melbourne in Australia.
The researchers monitored 1320 individuals from the age of 6-7 years up to the age of 44 years, of whom 70% had allergic asthma as adults.
The combination of childhood eczema and hayfever predicted the development of allergic asthma in adulthood and also the persistence of childhood asthma into adult allergic asthma.
Overall, the researchers estimate that 20-30% of allergic asthma seen in the adults in their study could be attributed to a history of childhood eczema and hayfever.
“In this study, we can see that childhood eczema, particularly when hayfever also occurs, is a very strong predictor of who will suffer from allergic asthma in adult life,” said Martin.
The team concludes in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: “Our findings have important clinical implications for the potential prevention of asthma in adult life through efforts to prevent or ameliorate eczema and [hayfever] in childhood.”