Background: Wild-type varicella zoster virus infection (WTVZV) early in childhood has been shown to protect against the development of asthma and atopy.
Objective: To determine whether WTVZV in childhood protects against atopic dermatitis (AD).
Methods: This retrospective, practice-based, case-control study randomly sampled 256 children and adolescents (age 1-18 years) with AD and 422 age-matched healthy controls from 2005 to 2007. Observations were made before the a priori hypothesis.
Results: (1) A single episode of WTVZV in childhood is associated with decreased odds ratio (OR) of developing AD (conditional logistic regression; OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.34-0.89; P = .01). (2) When using intervals for age corresponding to bimodal distribution of age of WTVZV infection, the effects of WTVZV infection are significant when occurring at age 0 to 8 years (OR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.35-0.90; P = .02), but not at 8 to 18 years (OR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.19-1.31; P = .16). Considering 5-year intervals has similar findings. (3) WTVZV is associated with decreased odds of moderate AD (multinomial logistic regression; OR, 0.08, 95% CI, 0.04-0.15; P < .0001) or severe AD (OR, 0.04; 95% CI, 0.01-0.13; P < .0001). (4) WTVZV in children is associated with prolonged AD-free survival (Kaplan-Meier; median, 15.3 years; 95% CI, 10.9-18.0) compared with controls (median, 7.5 years; 95% CI, 4.8-11.9; log-rank test, P < .0001). (5) Children with WTVZV, compared with vaccine, who eventually develop AD require fewer pediatrician sick visits for management of AD (logistic regression; OR, 0.17; 95% CI, 0.06-0.51; P = .001).
Conclusion: WTVZV in childhood protects up to 10 years of age against AD, delays onset of AD symptoms, and decreases AD severity and office visits.
Copyright 2010 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.