Challenging notions of the ‘atopic personality’

Thomas Ruzicka and Andreas Wollenberg

in Landmark Papers in Allergy

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199651559
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754241 | DOI:

Series: Landmark Papers

Challenging notions of the ‘atopic personality’

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  • Public Health and Epidemiology
  • Immunology
  • Respiratory Medicine and Pulmonology


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There has been much debate in the past on whether there exists a characteristic atopic personality. . . . In the South Teesside Department of Dermatology one clinician has kept the diagnostic index for all the years from 1958, so that the diagnostic criteria have remained reasonably constant. As the only skin clinic in the area for many years, from 1958 it is likely to have a record of most cases of infantile eczema referred to hospital. . . . We hoped we might be in a position to learn how the eczematous infants of 1958, and subsequent years, had fared by the time they reached school-leaving age, compared with the average normal child, and to what extent the eczema had persisted. It was hoped broadly to see what influence the atopic eczema had had upon the lives of the children, upon their scholastic and sporting merits and achievements, and upon their place in society. . . . An attempt was made to interview all patients with atopic eczema, who had first attended the South Teesside Department of Dermatology during the years 1958–1960, and who had been aged less than 5 years when originally seen . . . ninety-nine patients were questioned about their educational qualifications and interests, and the parents were asked to make some assessment of their children’s personalities. Each patient had his or her weight and height measured to determine if these were within the normal percentiles. . . . Both boys and girls conformed closely to the standards for weight and for height . . . the occurrence of infantile eczema did not appear to affect the early development of the children . . . no great difference for success in examinations is shown between our patients and the country as a whole. The results for social, artistic and sporting activities did not show any striking characteristic for the group.

Chapter.  1345 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology ; Immunology ; Respiratory Medicine and Pulmonology

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