Survey Highlights Burden of Atopic Dermatitis for Many Infants and Preschoolers

Doug Brunk

July 11, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS — Infants and preschoolers with atopic dermatitis (AD) experience a substantial disease burden across several domains, including atopic comorbidities, pruritus, sleep loss, hospitalizations, frequent prolonged flares, and school attendance. Those are key findings from a large international web-based survey that was presented during a poster session at the annual meeting of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology.

"Improved knowledge of the AD-related burden may help reinforce the medical need in the pediatric population and contribute to better and earlier adequate management of the disease," authors led by Stephan Weidinger , MD, PhD, vice head of the department of dermatology at University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany, wrote in the abstract.

For the study, Weidinger and colleagues evaluated 1,486 infants and preschoolers with AD aged 6 months to under 6 years, who participated in the Epidemiology of Children with Atopic Dermatitis Reporting on their Experience (EPI-CARE), an international, cross-sectional, web-based survey of children and adolescents.

The study population resided in 18 countries from five regions of the world, including North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East/Eurasia, and East Asia. Parents or guardians answered all questions for infants/preschoolers younger than 4 years of age, while preschoolers aged 4 to younger than 6 years were asked to answer questions related to the impact of AD on their health-related quality of life.

AD severity was assessed using Patient Global Assessment (PtGA), where parents or guardians described their child's eczema severity over the last week as mild, moderate, or severe. The researchers stratified outcomes by geographic region and AD severity, which included the following atopic comorbidities: worst itch, worst skin pain, and overall sleep disturbance in the past 24 hours as measured by the 0-10 numeric rating scale, where higher scores indicate worse severity; eczema-related hospitalization in the past 12 months; and frequency and average duration of flares over the past month.

The mean age of the study participants was 3 years and 61.6% had mild disease. The most common atopic comorbidities were hay fever, asthma, and seasonal allergies, and the incidence of atopic comorbidities increased with increasing AD severity. One or more atopic comorbidities was reported in 88.3% of patients with mild AD, compared with 92.1% of those with moderate disease and 95.8% of those with severe disease. In addition, infants and preschoolers with moderate or severe AD had worse itch, skin pain, and sleep disturbances over the past 24 hours, compared with those who had mild AD.

More than half of infants and preschoolers with severe AD (54.1%) were reported to have been hospitalized in the past 12 months (this ranged from 30.2% to 71.3% across regions), as did 35% of patients with moderate AD and 32.1% of those with mild AD. In addition, 50.6% of infants and preschoolers with severe AD had more than two flares in the past month, compared with 18.1% of those with moderate AD and 6.3% of those with mild disease.

In other findings, 50.7% of infants and preschoolers with severe AD had flares than lasted an average of 2 or more weeks, compared with 20.8% of those with moderate disease and 10% of those with mild disease. Also, 78.3% of preschoolers aged 4 to less than 6 years had missed one or more days of school in the previous 4 weeks: a mean of 5.1 days among those with mild AD, a mean of 7.3 days among those with moderate AD, and a mean of 12.1 days among those with severe disease.

Raj J. Chovatiya MD, PhD, of the department of dermatology at Northwestern University, Chicago, who was asked to comment on the study, said that infants and preschoolers remain an understudied group despite the high prevalence of AD in this age range. "The results of this study demonstrate a substantial burden of disease in this population, particularly among those with more severe disease," said Chovatiya, who also directs the university's Center for Eczema and Itch. "This includes longer and more frequent AD flares as well as high rates of inpatient hospitalization. These findings suggest that additional research is needed to better characterize disease burden and optimize outcomes for young children with AD."

The study was funded by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Sanofi. Weidinger and other coauthors reported having received institutional research grants and consulting fees from many pharmaceutical companies that manufacture drugs used for the treatment of psoriasis and eczema.

Chovatiya disclosed that he has served as an advisory board member, consultant, speaker, and/or investigator for AbbVie, Arcutis, Arena, Beiersdorf, Bristol Myers Squibb, Dermavant, Eli Lilly, EPI Health, Incyte, L'Oréal, the National Eczema Association, Pfizer, Regeneron, Sanofi, and UCB.

This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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