Sex-specific developmental trajectories of eczema from infancy to age 26 years: A birth cohort study


Background: Eczema is a common inflammatory skin disease with varying developmental trajectories/patterns that are influenced by different risk factors. The aim of this study was to investigate eczema development from infancy to early adulthood by identifying distinct developmental trajectories that describe disease patterns over time and evaluate the role of prenatal and early-life risk factors. Methods: The Isle of Wight Birth Cohort (n = 1456) was prospectively assessed at birth, 1, 2, 4, 10, 18 and 26 years. In all assessments, eczema was defined as chronic or chronically relapsing itchy dermatitis lasting >6 weeks with characteristic morphology and distribution in the past 12 months. Developmental trajectories of eczema between 1 or 2 and 26 years were identified separately for males and females by applying semiparametric mixture models. Associations were assessed by applying a modified Poisson regression to estimate adjusted risk ratios (aRR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Results: In both males and females, the following eczema developmental trajectories were identified: unaffected/transient (males: 77.7% vs. females: 73.0%), mid-onset late-resolving (males: 7.8% vs. females: 4.4%), late-onset (males: 5.2% vs. females: 9.5%) and early-onset persistent (males: 9.3% vs. females: 5.4%). In females, an additional trajectory was identified as follows: early-onset early-resolving (7.7%). Among males, filaggrin gene (FLG) variants (aRR = 2.45, 95% CI: 1.34–4.46) and paternal eczema (2.66, 1.39–5.08) were associated with the early-onset persistent trajectory. Among females, maternal eczema (2.84, 1.42–5.70) and high birthweight (2.25, 1.08–4.69) were associated with the early-onset persistent trajectory. Conclusions: Four and five trajectories represented eczema development among males and females, respectively, with different predisposing risk factors. Our results indicate that males and females may experience a different course of eczema.

Publication Title

Clinical and Experimental Allergy