Background: Atopic dermatitis is a common multifactorial disease that seems to be increasing in frequency.
Objective: Our purpose was to determine the increased prevalence of atopic dermatitis in North Europe.
Methods: Approximately 3000 7-year-old children in Denmark, Germany, and Sweden were enrolled in a cross-sectional questionnaire study that was conducted in the autumn of 1992 with common protocols and standardized procedures.
Results: The response rate was 90%. The frequency of atopic dermatitis was calculated to be 15.6% (95% confidence interval 14.2% to 17%) with some regional differences. Girls more often had flexural eczema and outnumbered boys in a ratio of 1.3:1.0. Boys more often had a personal history of asthma, whereas girls more often had a family history of asthma.
Conclusion: The increasing prevalence of atopic dermatitis has been confirmed. This simple questionnaire model works well, is cost effective, and is sufficiently sensitive and specific to conduct large-scale epidemiologic investigations in school children.