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A study was undertaken to investigate and compare various methods of estimating the prevalence of atopic dermatitis (AD), and to investigate a possible ethnic difference in our local community. Preschool children attending routine child health surveillance clinics and Social Services day nurseries were examined by a trained observer, and their parents were interviewed. In addition, general practice records from a health centre were scrutinized. Three hundred and twenty-two children aged 1-4 years were examined, and the point prevalence of AD was 14% [95% confidence interval (CI) 10-18]. There was no apparent ethnic difference in prevalence. Twenty-seven per cent (95% CI 22-32) of parents reported that their children had suffered from 'eczema' at some time. General practitioners' records contained a diagnosis of 'eczema' in 32% (95% CI 28-36) of 446 children aged 1-4 years. It is clear that methodology must be carefully standardized if comparisons are to be made between different studies. Accurate estimations of the prevalence of AD can probably only be obtained by examination of a population sample by a trained observer. However, the estimates obtained in this study are high, and would tend to support existing evidence that the prevalence of AD is rising.


Journal article


Br J Dermatol

Publication Date





772 - 777


Asia, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Dermatitis, Atopic, Eczema, England, Ethnic Groups, Family Practice, Female, Humans, Infant, Male, Medical Records, Prevalence