The occurrence of atopic dermatitis in north Europe: an international questionnaire study

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1996 May;34(5 Pt 1):760-4. doi: 10.1016/s0190-9622(96)90009-2.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Asthma / genetics
  • Child
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology*
  • Eczema / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prevalence
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology