Yes - this is known as the allergic march. The allergic march is the stepwise progression of one allergic disease leading to another, often starting early in life. Multiple studies and experimental data have supported this idea. These allergic conditions include eczema, food allergies, seasonal allergies and asthma. All of these diseases have dramatically increased in recent decades and now affect 1 in 5 people living in developed countries.
Baby Eczema. The typical progression or “march” that most often starts out in babies is eczema. Eczema is now very common in young infants and can occur as early as 1-2 months of age, with more than half of babies having it before their first birthday. Fortunately, most childhood eczema gets better with time. One study looking at children with a history of eczema showed that the eczema improved in 82 of the 94 children by 7 years of age.
Seasonal Allergies. Studies have shown that infants with eczema are more likely to developseasonal allergies and asthma later on. One study showed that 45% of children with eczema went on to develop allergic rhinitis, or seasonal allergies.
Asthma. About 70% of patients with severe eczema go on to develop asthma compared to the general population, in which only 8% are affected. Only children with the mildest eczema did not develop either asthma or seasonal allergies.
Food Allergies. There has been a significant rise in immediate reactions to food, or food anaphylaxis. Eczema and food allergy are often seen together, particularly in children with early onset, severe and persistent eczema. Food allergy is known to trigger eczema flares in babies and the prevalence of IgE-mediated, or immediate reactions to food, in babies with eczema is about 35%.