As atopic dermatitis (AD) prevalence has increased in children over several decades, it's critical for physicians to recognize the environmental and demographic factors contributing to the change, said Jonathan Silverberg, MD, PhD, MPH.
Jonathan Silverberg, MD, PhD, MPH, is an associate professor of dermatology at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Why is it important to quantify the prevalence of atopic dermatitis in children?
Silverberg: Prevalence is a little bit of a complicated statistic to interpret in general because it reflects not only more incident cases but it also reflects more persistent cases over time and a composite overall assessment of the state of how common a disease can be. What we've seen is that over the past 40 to 50 years, there's been this steady increase in the prevalence of atopic dermatitis and there has been some real questions about whether or not it's continuing to increase. Why that matters is severalfold: one, because this is a disease that is highly related to environmental factors so with changing environmental factors, there may be an increase in prevalence and [two] there are fascinating differences by demographic factors as well and with a growing diversification of the population, we might expect to see changes in the prevalence.
So, that's some of the background. Overall, the importance is atopic dermatitis is arguably one of, if not the most, common chronic disease of childhood. It's even more common than asthma in children. For many children it's a mild disease, but for a large subset, it's very debilitating and chronic. These are patients that are really suffering. So, from a resource allocation standpoint and from an understanding of how commonly different medications may be used in a therapeutic landscape, these are all very important applications of where prevalence comes into play.