Association Between Atopic Dermatitis and Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review

Lucia Billeci, Alessandro Tonacci, Gennaro Tartarisco, Liliana Ruta, Giovanni Pioggia, Sebastiano Gangemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is an allergic disorder caused by both immunological dysregulation and epidermal barrier defect. Several studies have investigated the association between AD and mental health disorders. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental conditions characterized by impairments in social communication and restricted, stereotyped interests and behaviors. The concurrent increased prevalence of AD and ASD in the last decades has led many scientists to investigate the relationship between the two diseases. Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to examine the association between AD and ASD. Methods: A systematic review was performed according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines. PubMed and ScienceDirect were searched up to March 2015 for all reports examining the association between ASD and AD. Descriptive statistics of the studies are reported. Results: The review included 18 studies assessing the association between ASD and AD. Of these studies, two focused on ASD in relation to AD alone, 14 discussed ASD in relation to both AD and other atopic disorders, and two evaluated AD in parents of children with ASD. Most of these studies found a positive association between the two disorders, although there were some studies going in the opposite direction. The entity of the association is somewhat inconsistent among the different studies given that the frequencies of AD in ASD compared with a control group ranged from 7 to 64.2 %. In addition, odds ratios (ORs) or hazard ratios (HRs) gave different results as three studies found a weak association with an OR below 2 and a nonsignificant p value, and three other studies found a moderate or strong association with an OR ranging from 1.52 to 7.17 and a significant p value. When all atopic disorders were considered when evaluating the risk of ASD, the association was strong with an HR of 3.4 or an OR of 1.24 and p 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-388
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Dermatology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 26 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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