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Itchy eczema and bad sleep in 3 million school-aged children

Published online: August 1, 2021

Sleep disturbance is consistently reported in children with eczema (atopic dermatitis). Sleep disturbance and eczema are associated with inattention (like ADHD) and psychological symptoms (like depression). However, it is not known how many children this truly impacts.

In a recent study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, Fishbein et al. quantified sleep disturbance in children with eczema (atopic dermatitis) and the associated effects with psychological/neurocognitive function. The authors hypothesized that children with more severe eczema would experience more sleep disturbance and poorer psychological/neurocognitive function. A cross-sectional survey study of 180 children (5–17 years) with eczema was conducted between May-July 2019 across the United States. The authors utilized patient and parent-proxy reported outcomes to assess disease severity, itch, sleep disturbance/itch, and neurocognitive/psychological function. Weighted frequencies from National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) were used to estimate US prevalence of sleep disturbance. Regression modeling was used to evaluate the associations between disease severity, sleep disturbance, psychological symptoms, and neurocognitive function.
Across disease severity groups, 67% of children and adolescents with eczema had sleep disturbance and 61% reported daytime sleep-related impairment. Thus, over 3 million children ages 5–17 years in the US have eczema and suffer from sleep disturbance, with just under 3 million experiencing sleep-related impairments. Sleep disturbance was associated with more itch intensity and worse disease. In children able to self-report on their experiences (8 years old and older), sleep disturbance was associated with depression, fatigue, and anxiety. The authors stress the prevalence of sleep disturbance in school-aged children with eczema, as well as the impact this can have on life quality.

The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice is an official journal of the AAAAI, focusing on practical information for the practicing clinician.

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