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Eczema severity linked to mental health problems in schoolchildren

28 Oct 2018

Schoolchildren with severe eczema are at heightened risk of mental health problems including emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention and peer problems, a study has found. 

Researchers looked at 9,954 schoolchildren in the 2nd to the 8th grades from the ToMMo Child Health Study, a cross-sectional survey in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.

Eczema status was evaluated according to the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) Eczema Symptom Questionnaire. Mental health problems were identified using the clinical ranges of Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) total difficulties scores and the four SDQ subcategories of emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, and peer problems.

Mean SDQ total difficulties scores significantly increased with worsening eczema status (p≤0.004 for trend). The odds ratios for SDQ total difficulties were 1.51 (95 percent CI, 1.31–1.74) for mild/moderate eczema and 2.63 (1.91–3.63) for severe eczema (p<0.001 for trend) vs normal eczema.

Similar results were obtained for the four SDQ subcategories. Specifically, greater eczema severity was associated with increased emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention and peer problems (p≤0.017 for all).

In light of the finding that the presence of eczema in schoolchildren is associated with multiple psychiatric symptoms, researchers advised that physicians treating this population pay attention to potential mental health problems.

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