Long-Term Exposure to UV Radiation is Associated with Childhood Eczema Prevalence

ISGlobal took part in an international study on the role of environmental factors in atopic dermatitis in children conducted in 87 countries


ISGlobal participated in an international study that examined the relationship between exposure to UV radiation and the prevalence of eczema in children. This ecological study concluded that UV exposure at the country level was associated with eczema prevalence also at the country level. Among other results, this research reported that countries with higher mean monthly UV radiation had higher country averages of eczema prevalences among 13-14 year-old.

This study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, was conducted using data from the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), and includes information on children 13-14 years of age from 214 schools in 87 countries and children 6-7 years of age from 132 schools in 57 countries.

Childhood atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is very common worldwide and is associated with genetic risk factors. Previous research suggests that climatic factors such as temperature, humidity and exposure to UV radiation can influence the prevalence and symptoms of this condition, although the direction and consistency of the effects varies from one study to the next. No previous study had included data from developing countries, where the prevalence of eczema is rising and exposure to UV radiation can be high.

ISGlobal researcher Elaine Fuertes, the first author of the study, commented: “Thanks to the large dataset available in the ISAAC study, we were able to conduct the first study examining the relationship between UV exposure and eczema in children and adolescents in a global context”, while adding that the results should be interpreted with caution “until they can be reproduced using prospective data with individual exposures”. Nevertheless, this new study supports the hypothesis that UV exposure explains some of the variation in the prevalence of childhood eczema around the world.


Fuertes E, Flohr C, Silverberg JI, Standl M, Strachan DP; ISAAC Phase Three Study Group. Global associations between UV exposure and current eczema prevalence in children from ISAAC Phase Three. J Invest Dermatol. 2017 Feb 28. pii: S0022-202X(17)31148-X.