Children of educated parents more likely to have eczema

Drs Gerald Haidinger and Andra Weber of the Medical University of Vienna colleague, using data from two studies in Austria, one conducted from 1995 to 1997 and the other from 2001 to 2003 noticed an increase in the incidence of childhood eczema from 10% to 13%. Moreover, they noted that, among the nearly 24,000 children in the two studies, there was an increased risk of the conditions among children born to parents with more education, taking into account other risk factors, such as having a parent with the skin condition.

Much of this disparity seemed to revolve around mothers, whose education exerted a stronger effect than the father's. Girls were also more affected than boys although this may be because girls are more likely to consult medical opinion for a skin condition which affects their looks than boys.

The researchers have several theories as to why an academic degree might be linked to an apparently higher incidence of eczema:
• Awareness – Higher education leads to greater awareness of childhood diseases while higher earning powers means that parents may be more willing to spend money on medical opinions.
• Hygiene hypothesis – some educated parents may provide an overly germ-free environment for their child, which may lead to fewer infections and an improperly trained immune system.
• The skin-drying effect of money! The researchers suggests that people with more schooling are more likely to have central heating, bathe frequently, and apply expensive, perfumed skin care products that dry out the skin.

Pediatric Allergy and Immunology - Abstract

Courtesy of Reuters

April 2010


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