January 24, 2020
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Significant association found between maternal depression, childhood atopic dermatitis

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Jonathan I. Silverberg
Jonathan I. Silverberg

There is a significant association between postpartum depression and maternal depression and higher odds of childhood atopic dermatitis, according to a prospective cohort study published in Dermatitis.

Researchers used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a prospective birth cohort of 4,898 women and children born in 20 large U.S. cities. History of atopic dermatitis (AD) was evaluated based on whether the child had eczema or skin allergies in the past 12 months, history of asthma was evaluated based on whether a health professional ever said the child had asthma, sleep disturbance was evaluated based on whether the child had trouble sleeping, and history of postpartum and maternal or paternal depression was evaluated based on whether the mother or father felt sad, blue or depressed for more than 2 weeks in a row in the past 12 months.

“To test the association between postpartum depression and childhood AD, bivariable and multivariable binary logistic regression models were constructed with 1-year history of AD as the dependent variable and maternal postpartum depression as the independent variable,” Costner McKenzie, BA, of the department of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and colleague wrote.

Childhood AD at any age was associated with race/ethnicity but not sex, household income or maternal level of education. Prevalence of AD was found at ages 5 years (14.8%), 9 years (15.1%) and 15 years (14.2%).

History of postpartum depression was associated with childhood AD overall (crude OR = 1.32; 95% CI, 1.07-1.63) and more persistent AD (crude OR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.09-2.11). Maternal depression in the past 12 months was associated with higher odds of childhood AD (adjusted odds ratio = 1.54; 95% CI, 1.26-1.90), with no significant associations between history of paternal depression and childhood AD.

“We found that mothers with depression in the postpartum period or beyond were more likely to have children with atopic dermatitis,” Jonathan I. Silverberg, MD, PhD, MPH, corresponding author from the department of dermatology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, told Healio. “Their children were also more likely to have persistent atopic dermatitis, increased sleep disturbance and higher rates of asthma.”

These findings may prompt further investigation of screening tools and interventions that may reduce the risk for AD in children of mothers with depression.

“The results are clinically relevant because they suggest that interventions that reduce postpartum depression in mothers may help prevent or control their child’s atopic dermatitis,” Silverberg said. – by Erin T. Welsh

Photo of Silverberg courtesy of GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.