Written By Kevin Kerfoot / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Atopic dermatitis - a chronic, inflammatory skin disease typically characterized by itch, pain, and sleep disturbance - has also been strongly linked to a number of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Now researchers say that maternal depression in the postpartum period is associated with the development of AD throughout childhood and adolescence.
The study - published in the journal Dermatitis – examined the association of maternal depression in the postpartum period, and maternal and paternal depression in later childhood with AD in U.S. children and adolescents.
By analyzing data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study they found that postpartum depression was associated with higher odds of AD developing later in childhood, more persistent AD, and increased sleep disturbance among children with AD.
“We know that emotional factors can exacerbate AD flares and influence the course of the disease,” says Jonathan Silverberg, MD, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor of dermatology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Previous studies have shown that family environment and other environmental factors can have an impact on AD.”
“Our results further suggest that postpartum depression is associated with AD even in older children and adolescents, with more persistent disease and greater sleep disturbance. This could potentially suggest more severe AD.”
High Prevalence of Atopic Dermatitis among U.S. Adults
As many as 16.5 million adults in America suffer from atopic dermatitis estimates a study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It also projected that 6.6 million of these adults have disease that would be classified as moderate to severe, leading to a decrease in quality of life.
Researchers surveyed 1,278 adults sampled from the GfK Knowledge Panel, a probability-based online panel that is thought to be representative of the adult population of the United States. Among those respondents, the research – published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology – reports that 7.3 percent of the adults surveyed met the criteria for diagnosis of AD.
Sixty percent of those with AD classified as mild, 29 percent as moderate, and 11 percent as severe.
Patients with AD and those with more severe disease also had higher scores in other patient-reported outcome measures, including the Dermatology Life Quality Index, indicating a worse impact on quality of life and an increased likelihood of anxiety or depression as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
“These findings show a disconnect between the prevalence of this disease and its impact on patient quality of life compared to the resources being dedicated to developing systemic therapies,” says study lead author Zelma C. Chiesa Fuxench, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of Dermatology at Penn. “With only one approved biologic available, it’s clear the need is not being met.”
Can you grow out of atopic dermatitis?
“When these patients experience flare-ups, they’re more likely to call out of work, avoid going out, or remove themselves from other situations they might typically enjoy. Topical and oral corticosteroids don’t work for everyone, and even when they do, patients should not be on them long-term. We need to prioritize our understanding of this complex disease as well as the development of innovative therapies for these patients.”
“We tend to think of this disease as a children’s disease, but our data show that’s not the case,” Fuxench added. “Our findings show this disease affects seven percent of the population, far more than other inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, which only affects about three percent. Yet psoriasis has eight biologic treatments available for patients, whereas atopic dermatitis only has one that’s approved.”
The numbers also hint at larger questions about this population, including whether they developed the condition as they got older or whether they had it as children and stopped seeking treatment at some point during their lives due to unhappiness with or poor response to currently available therapies.
Many patients are told they will grow out of the disease, but data suggests that may not be the case, and that the disease may change over time. The medical and social impact of AD can also lead to a financial impact for many patients.
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With over 30 years of writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications, Kevin Kerfoot writes about natural health, nutrition, skincare and oral hygiene for Trusted Health Products’ natural health blog and newsletters.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.