Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2005;31(6):474-478    pdf


Influence of childhood atopic dermatitis on future worklife

by Nyrén M, Lindberg M, Stenberg B, Svensson M, Svensson Å, Meding B

Objectives The purpose of this study was to perform a population-based follow-up of people with childhood atopic dermatitis with respect to the possible influence on their worklife.

Methods Medical records of the school health care services in Stockholm, Sweden, were reviewed for people born between 1960 and 1969. Altogether 600 persons with signs of atopic dermatitis (“cases”) and 600 matched controls without eczema (“controls”) were identified. Of these people, 405 cases and 378 controls answered a postal questionnaire focusing on choice of job, occupational exposure, past and present skin disease, and change of job due to eczema.

Results The proportions of cases and controls in jobs with a high risk of hand eczema were similar, as was the exposure to water, detergents, chemicals, and hand washing. The self-reported cumulative prevalence of hand eczema was 42% for the cases and 13% for the controls (P<0.001). The 1-year prevalence was 24% for the cases and 9% for the controls (P<0.001). Among the cases, 9% reported a change of job due to eczema compared with 2% of the controls (P<0.001). The corresponding proportions of sick leave were 10% and 2% (P<0.001).

Conclusions In conclusion, a history of atopic dermatitis in childhood does not seem to influence the choice of job nor hazardous occupational skin exposure. It does, however, mean an increased risk for job changes, sick leave, and medical consultations, mainly due to the increased risk of hand eczema.