Pediatric Atopic Dermatitis Associated with Learning, Memory Difficulties

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New research links pediatric atopic dermatitis (AD) with higher odds of memory and learning difficulties.

"Previous studies suggest that atopic dermatitis (AD) is associated with cognitive impairment in children, but these studies have relied primarily on neurodevelopmental diagnoses (rather than symptoms) as proxy measures of cognitive function," the authors wrote in JAMA Dermatology. "It remains unknown if certain subpopulations of children with AD are at greater risk of cognitive impairment."

To find out, researchers looked at data from the 2021 U.S. National Health Interview Survey, and included children aged 17 or younger without intellectual disability or autism in the analysis. AD presence was determined based on caregiver reports of current or previously confirmed medical diagnoses. Main outcome measures included reported difficulties in learning or memory.

Among over 69 million participants, 13.2% had AD. Children with AD were significantly more likely to experience learning and memory difficulties compared to those without AD. After adjusting for sociodemographics, allergies, and other factors, AD was consistently associated with increased odds of learning and memory difficulties. Importantly, this association was especially pronounced in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as ADHD or learning disabilities, with two- to three-fold higher odds for experiencing memory difficulties.

"These findings may improve the risk stratification of children with AD for cognitive impairments and suggest that evaluation for cognitive difficulties should be prioritized among children with AD and neurodevelopmental disorders," the researchers wrote.

Source: Ma EZ, Chang HR, Radtke S, Wan J. Symptoms of Cognitive Impairment Among Children With Atopic Dermatitis. JAMA Dermatology. Published online March 6, 2024. doi:

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