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Mental health associations with eczema, asthma and hay fever in children: a cross-sectional survey
  1. Lene Hammer-Helmich1,2,
  2. Allan Linneberg1,3,4,
  3. Carsten Obel5,
  4. Simon Francis Thomsen6,7,
  5. Line Tang Møllehave1,
  6. Charlotte Glümer1,8
  1. 1Research Centre for Prevention and Health, The Capital Region of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Real World Evidence and Epidemiology, H. Lundbeck A/S, Valby, Denmark
  3. 3Department of Clinical Experimental Research, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark
  4. 4Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  5. 5Department of Public Health, Aarhus University, Institute of General Medical Practice, Arhus, Denmark
  6. 6Department of Dermatology, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark
  7. 7Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  8. 8Faculty of Medicine, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Professor Charlotte Glümer; chgl{at}


Objective This study aimed to examine the association of eczema, asthma and hay fever with mental health in a general child population and to assess the influence of parental socioeconomic position on these associations.

Methods We conducted a cross-sectional health survey of children aged 3, 6, 11 and 15 years in the City of Copenhagen, Denmark. Individual questionnaire data on eczema, asthma, and hay fever and mental health problems assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was linked to register data on demographics and parental socioeconomic position. 9215 (47.9%) children were included in the analyses.

Results Linear regression analyses showed that children with current eczema symptoms had higher SDQ scores (mean difference, 95% CI) of emotional problems (0.26, 0.12 to 0.39), conduct problems (0.19, 0.09 to 0.29) and hyperactivity problems (0.32, 0.16 to 0.48); children with current asthma symptoms had higher SDQ scores of emotional problems (0.45, 0.32 to 0.58), conduct problems (0.28, 0.18 to 0.38) and hyperactivity problems (0.52, 0.35 to 0.69); and children with current hay fever symptoms had higher SDQ scores of emotional problems (0.57, 0.42 to 0.72), conduct problems (0.22, 0.11 to 0.33), hyperactivity problems (0.44, 0.26 to 0.61) and peer problems (0.14, 0.01 to 0.26), compared with children without current symptoms of the relevant disease. For most associations, parental socioeconomic position did not modify the effect.

Conclusions Children with eczema, asthma or hay fever had more emotional, conduct and hyperactivity problems, but not peer problems, compared with children without these diseases. Atopic diseases added equally to the burden of mental health problems independent of socioeconomic position.


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  • Contributors LH-H and CG devised the conception and design of the study. LH-H, AL, CO, SFT and CG contributed to the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of the data. LH-H was responsible for drafting of the manuscript, and LH-H, AL, CO, SFT, LTM and CG for critical revision for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests reports that she has been employed by H. Lundbeck a/s in the period after drafting the prefinal version until submission of this manuscript.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency. According to Danish legislation, approval from the Danish Health Research Ethics Committee System was not required, as the study was based on data from questionnaires and national registers.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.