A recent study published in BMC Pediatrics observed the trends of childhood allergic conditions and found higher rates of asthma, lower rates of eczema, and an association between food allergies and the development of respiratory allergies compared with previous reports.

David A. Hill, MD, PhD, from the Department of Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues used a care network of 1,050,061 urban and suburban children to examine the rates of childhood allergic conditions using data from healthcare provider-based diagnoses.

The researchers defined a retrospective closed birth cohort of 29,662 children and another cross-sectional cohort of 333,200 children. They used the cohorts to determine the epidemiologic characteristics of childhood allergic conditions and used logistic regression to analyze the association between food allergies and respiratory allergies.

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“We believe that, with the adoption of EMRs by most major academic medical centers, the utilization of healthcare provider-based diagnosis data within virtual birth cohorts will become a more common and powerful epidemiologic tool for the study of pediatric disease patterns and associations,” the study authors wrote.

Among the children included in the birth cohort, the peak ages of diagnosis were between 0 and 5 months for eczema (7.3%), between 12 and 17 months for asthma (8.7%), between 24 and 29 months for rhinitis (2.5%), and between 12 and 17 months for food allergies (1.9%).

In the cross-sectional cohort, the prevalence rate of eczema was 6.7% and the prevalence rate of rhinitis was 19.9%. The researchers also noted that the prevalence rate of asthma (21.8%) was higher than previously reported.

The overall prevalence rate of food allergies was 6.7%, and this included allergies to peanut (2.6%), milk (2.2%), egg (1.8%), shellfish (1.5%), and soy (0.7%). In addition, food allergies were also associated with the development of asthma (odds ratio [OR], 2.16) and rhinitis (OR, 2.72).

“These findings allow new insights into the epidemiologic characteristics of these diseases, describe the importance of utilizing provider-diagnosis data to complement participant reporting methodologies, and provide important information to shape future efforts aimed at prevention, diagnosis, and management of these common pediatric conditions,” the authors concluded.


  1. Hill DA, Grundmeier, Ram G, Spergel JM. The epidemiologic characteristics of healthcare provider-diagnosed eczema, asthma, allergic rhinitis, and food allergy in children: a retrospective cohort study. BMC Pediatrics. 2016;16(133). doi: 10.1186/s12887-016-0673-z.