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 by promoting a standardised methodology, and currently holds a Guinness World record for the largest epidemiological study in children.
Professor Williams and his team analysed over 300,000 children aged 13 to 14 years from 105 centres in 55 countries and nearly 190,000 children aged six to seven years from 64 centres in 35 countries.
The largest decreases in children aged between 13 to 14 years were seen in developed countries in northwest Europe, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and also New Zealand. Professor Williams says this provides some reassurance that an allergic disease epidemic is not increasing inexorably throughout the world, and that a threshold effect may be in operation.
Most of the biggest increases in the 13 to 14 age group were seen in developing countries such as Mexico, Chile, Kenya and Algeria and in seven countries in Southeast Asia.
However, in six to seven year olds most countries showed significant increases over the five to ten year period.
Professor Williams said: “This is the first time we have been able to have a glimpse at what has been happening to eczema symptoms across the world using standardised methods. The results suggest that environmental factors are key to the expression of eczema — if only we could identify those factors so that we could prevent eczema in those countries experiencing significant increases.”
Although no singular environmental or genetic risk factor adequately explains the changes in eczema symptoms described in this paper Professor Williams does have some words of encouragement. He says there is already some evidence that eczema might be preventable to some degree and there is plenty of evidence on effective approaches to managing existing eczema symptoms. The way forward, he suggests, is for all public health responses to the eczema epidemic to ideally include an evaluative component so that others in the world can understand which approaches are more likely to be successful than others in different circumstances.
How prenatal maternal infections may affect genetic factors in Autism spectrum disorder
22.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
22.03.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
22.03.2017 | Materials Sciences