Thursday, 10 November 2016

Atopy increases vulnerability to affective and anxiety issues?

In a year of impossible things...
I was rather interested to read the recent paper by Renee Goodwin and colleagues [1] observing that: "Atopy appears to be associated with increased vulnerability to affective and anxiety problems, compared to youth without atopy."

Atopy, referring to a predisposition to developing allergic diseases such as eczema, asthma and/or hayfever, is something on the 'up' in research terms when it comes to aspects of psychiatry and/or developmental outcomes (see here for example). Goodwin et al set about further testing the possibility of a link based on data "drawn from the Raine Study (N = 2868) [a favourite initiative on this blog], a population-based birth cohort study in Western Australia."

Looking at signs of atopy - "using parent report and objective biological confirmation (sera IgE)" - at ages 1-5 years and "the range of internalizing and externalizing mental health problems at ages 5-17 years" authors reported on some interesting patterns/correlations in relation to affective and anxiety problems potentially being linked. Authors also described how their results held strong even "after adjusting for a range of potential confounders."

Whilst there are always going to be issues associated with studies linking one or two variables across various years, the Goodwin paper represents yet another example of how further research resources need to be ploughed into the area of immune function and behaviour. Yes, I appreciate that we are entering the era of immunopsychiatry (if I can call it that) and that there is some good science emerging in this area (see here) but questions about the [various] hows and whys still need answering [2].


[1] Goodwin RD. et al. Childhood atopy and mental health: a prospective, longitudinal investigation. Psychol Med. 2016 Oct 20:1-9.

[2] Hatfield SJ. et al. What's new in atopic eczema? An analysis of systematic reviews published in 2014. Part 1. Epidemiology, risk factors and outcomes. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2016 Nov 2.

---------- Goodwin RD, Robinson M, Sly PD, & Holt PG (2016). Childhood atopy and mental health: a prospective, longitudinal investigation. Psychological medicine, 1-9 PMID: 27762174