Children with allergic disease—asthma, hay fever, and atopic dermatitis (AD)—have about twice the rate of high blood pressure and high cholesterol than children without these conditions, according to a study published in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (Dec. 8, 2015).
“This study shows that cardiovascular risk starts far earlier in life than we ever realized,” said lead study author Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, an associate professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine dermatologist in Chicago, in a press release.
Dr. Silverberg studied the association of asthma, hay fever, and AD in the U.S. and cardiovascular risk factors using data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, including 13,275 children who were representative of the population from all 50 states. Asthma occurred in 14% of children, AD in 12%, and hay fever in 16.6%. Asthma, hay fever, and AD were all associated with higher rates of overweight or obesity.
Important to aggressively screen these children
The author noted in the study that these conditions were also associated with chronic peripheral and organ-specific inflammation, including upregulated TH2 inflammation. These disorders can also be anxiety-provoking, associated with chronic sleep disturbances, and can have functional limitations of physical activity, which have all been previously associated with cardiovascular disease.
“Given how common these allergic diseases are in childhood, it suggests we need to screen these children more aggressively to make sure we are not missing high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” Dr. Silverberg said. “There may be an opportunity to modify their lifestyles and turn this risk around.”