Increased incidence of autoimmune disorders as a late complication in children with early onset dermatitis and/or milk allergy

J Autoimmun. 2004 Jun;22(4):341-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2004.03.006.


Subjects with atopic dermatitis and autoimmune disorders share some similar immune response disorders. The aim of this study was to see whether subjects with early onset atopic dermatitis run a risk of eventually developing autoimmune diseases. The results of a questionnaire of 145 adolescents (70 f, 75 m, mean age 18.2 years, range 16-23 years) was compared with those of a group of 262 controls (112 f, 150 m, mean age 17.5 years, range 16-21 years), 164 of whom reported no atopic symptoms and were treated as a separate group for statistical analysis. As compared with the non-atopic controls, the study group subjects showed a significantly increased incidence of autoimmune disorders (9% vs. 1%), the relative risk ratio of a subject with infantile onset atopic eczema getting a gastrointestinal (GI) immune-mediated disease being 2.4 (CI(95)2.1-2.8) and of getting some other autoimmune disorder 3.1 (CI(95)2.8-9.7). The positive skin prick tests showed a negative association with the manifestation of a GI or other autoimmune disorder. The subjects with infantile dermatitis also reported recurrent abdominal pains (23% vs. 15%), and milk-induced gastrointestinal symptoms (19% vs. 10%) significantly more even as young adults than the controls. Our study showed that infantile atopy increases a predisposition to autoimmune disorders, suggesting that these two entities might have a common immunological determinant. While a high incidence of chronic GI complaints among the study subjects suggests the ongoing activity of local immune responses. However, more detailed prospective studies are needed to confirm these observations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / complications*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Milk Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires