Background: Although surveys from many parts of the world have shown that the prevalence of atopic dermatitis (AD) in schoolchildren has increased greatly in the past 40 years, there is no current prevalence information from the United States.
Objective: Our objective was to investigate the utility of a recently developed European questionnaire to estimate the prevalence of AD in urban and rural Oregon schoolchildren.
Methods: The self-administered Schultz-Larsen questionnaire (SLQ) of AD symptoms and history was completed by the parents of a broad socioeconomic and ethnic mix of 5- to 9-year-old schoolchildren from 6 urban and 2 rural elementary schools in Oregon. Validation assessments included comparisons of the questionnaire scores with clinical examination in a group of age-matched children and with specific history components known to correlate with AD.
Results: Data showed a prevalence of 17.2% using standard scoring criteria for the SLQ and with a lower limit of 6.8% according to highly stringent criteria derived from the validation study using dermatologic examination. A single question ("Has a doctor ever said that your child has eczema?") was highly concordant with the questionnaire determination, yielding very high predictive accuracy (91.2%).
Conclusion: This study of childhood AD frequency indicates a high prevalence of AD in the United States, comparable to that recently observed from studies in Europe and Japan. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2000;43:649-55.).