shutterstock_3550694Contrary to some earlier research, eczema is not associated with short stature, according to an analysis of data from several studies published online in JAMA Dermatology.

Eczema was thought to influence growth due to associated sleep impairment, inflammation, and/or treatment with steroids, but the new study helps debunk this school of thought.

That said, a small group of children and adolescents with severe eczema who do not get enough sleep may have potentially reversible growth impairment, the new study suggests.

“Childhood eczema is not associated with short stature overall, although severe disease with prominent sleep disturbance is associated with higher odds of short stature in early adolescence,” conclude study authors Jonathan I. Silverberg, MD, PhD, and Amy S. Paller, MD, MS.  Both are dermatologists at Northwestern University in Chicago. “Future studies are warranted to better characterize sleep disturbances and other risk factors and mechanisms of growth impairment in eczema and to determine whether such impairment is reversible.”

Researchers analyzed data from nine population-based studies to examine a possible association between eczema and short stature. The data included 264,326 children and adolescents and 83,511 adults.

Sleep Loss, Eczema, and Short Stature

Overall, eczema was not associated with significant differences of height in any of the studies or in the pooled analyses. In a small group of patients, short stature was associated with eczema only when there also was an indicator of insufficient sleep (zero to three nights of sufficient sleep per week). This association was significant only at 10 to 11 years of age, which suggests it may be reversible, the authors note.