Objective: To investigate the specificity of the association between internalizing disorders (anxiety and depression) and atopic disorders (asthma, allergic rhinitis, urticaria, and atopic dermatitis) in a child and adolescent psychiatric clinical sample.
Method: A sample of 184 youths was evaluated for current DSM-IV psychiatric disorders (clinical interview) and lifetime history of atopic disorders (parent report and chart review) in a child and adolescent psychiatry clinic from September 1, 2001, through December 31, 2002. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess the differential likelihood of having a lifetime history of atopic disorders among psychiatrically ill youths with and without internalizing disorders.
Results: Youths with internalizing disorders were significantly more likely than those with noninternalizing disorders to have a lifetime history of atopic disorders (odds ratio [OR] = 1.95, 95% CI = 1.02 to 3.73, p = .04). Moreover, analyses distinguishing youths with "pure" internalizing disorders from those with comorbid internalizing and externalizing disorders, "pure" externalizing disorders, and other psychiatric disorders showed that the association with atopic disorders was specific for "pure" internalizing disorders only (OR = 2.40, 95% CI = 1.09 to 5.30, p = .03).
Conclusions: Atopic disorders may be associated specifically with "pure" internalizing disorders in psychiatrically ill youths. Additional studies are needed to identify the underlying mechanisms of this specificity for the subsequent development of effective treatment and prevention interventions that target both disorders.