Association Between Atopic Dermatitis and ADHD


By Strom MA, Fishbein AB, Paller AS, Silverberg JI

Published On: May 20, 2016

Last Updated On: Jul 15, 2021

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is associated with chronic itch, allergic disease and sleep disturbance, all of which might increase the risk of attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADD/ADHD). Previous analyses have found a consistent association between AD and ADD/ADHD, though the underlying factors contributing to such an association remain underexplored. Additionally, the relationship has been underexplored in adults.


To determine if childhood and adult AD and AD severity are associated with ADD/ADHD and to delineate the factors contributing to such an association.


We analyzed data on 354,416 children age 2-17 and 34,613 adults age 18+ from nineteen US population-based surveys, including the National Health Interview Survey 1997-2013 and the National Survey of Children’s Health 2003/4 and 2007/8.


In multivariate models adjusting for age, sex, sociodemographics, allergic disease, and healthcare utilization, AD was associated with ADD/ADHD in both children (adjusted OR [95% CI], 1.14 [1.03-1.26]) and adults (1.61 [1.25-2.06]). Children with both severe AD and only 0-3 nights of adequate sleep had much higher odds of ADD/ADHD (16.83 [7.02-40.33]) than those with 0-3 nights of adequate sleep (1.83 [1.47-2.26]) or mild-moderate AD alone (1.56 [1.22-1.99]). AD was most strongly associated with severe ADHD. AD was most strongly associated with severe ADHD. AD unaccompanied by other allergic disease, was also associated with increased risk of ADD/ADHD in children. Among children with AD, history of anemia, headaches, and obesity were associated with even higher odds of ADD/ADHD. Asthma, insomnia, and headaches increased the odds of ADHD in adults with AD, though underweight BMI was protective.


AD is associated with increased odds ADD/ADHD in adults and children. Several factors increase the risk of ADHD in adults and children with AD.


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