There is a concern that allergic disease in childhood is higher than expected in Cuba. The aim of this study was to determine the risk factors for eczema of infants aged 12–15 months living in Havana.
We used a cross-sectional epidemiological study design. Data on eczema symptoms and a wide range of lifestyle factors were collected by researcher administered questionnaires.
Data were collected on 1956 children (96% response rate), of whom 672 (34%) were reported as having had eczema. Independent risk factors for eczema included young maternal age (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 0.98 per additional year of age; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.97-0.99), child’s weight (OR 1.13 per additional kg; 95% CI: 1.03-1.25), insect sting allergy (OR 2.11; 95% CI: 1.33-3.35), rodents in the home (OR 1.39; 95% CI: 1.10-1.76), attendance at childcare facilities (OR 1.34: 95% CI: 1.05-1.70) and self-reported mould in the home (OR 1.23; 95% CI: 1.07-1.41). Infant exposure to paracetamol was associated with an increased risk of eczema even after adjustment for wheeze (OR 1.22; 95% CI: 1.03-1.46).
Despite a very different culture and environment, the consistency of these findings with those from more economically developed countries suggests potential causal associations. The association with paracetamol, even after adjustment for wheeze, suggests that intervention studies are required in young infants, to ascertain if this commonly used anti-pyretic medication increases allergic disease.