Rationale: The relationship between eczema, wheeze or asthma, and rhinitis is complex, and epidemiology and mechanisms of their comorbidities is unclear. Objectives: To investigate within-individual patterns of morbidity of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis from birth to adolescence/early adulthood. Methods: We investigated onset, progression, and resolution of eczema, wheeze, and rhinitis using descriptive statistics, sequence mining, and latent Markov modeling in four population-based birth cohorts. We used logistic regression to ascertain if early-life eczema or wheeze, or genetic factors (filaggrin [FLG] mutations and 17q21 variants), increase the risk of multimorbidity. Measurements and Main Results: Single conditions, although the most prevalent, were observed significantly less frequently than by chance. There was considerable variation in the timing of onset/remission/persistence/intermittence. Multimorbidity of eczema1wheeze1rhinitis was rare but significantly overrepresented (three to six times more often than by chance). Although infantile eczema was associated with subsequent multimorbidity, most children with eczema (75.4%) did not progress to any multimorbidity pattern. FLG mutations and rs7216389 were not associated with persistence of eczema/wheeze as single conditions, but both increased the risk of multimorbidity (FLG by 2- to 3-fold, rs7216389 risk variant by 1.4- to 1.7-fold). Latent Markov modeling revealed five latent states (no disease/low risk, mainly eczema, mainly wheeze, mainly rhinitis, multimorbidity). The most likely transition to multimorbidity was from eczema state (0.21). However, although this was one of the highest transition probabilities, only one-fifth of those with eczema transitioned to multimorbidity. Conclusions: Atopic diseases fit a multimorbidity framework, with no evidence for sequential atopic march progression. The highest transition to multimorbidity was from eczema, but most children with eczema (more than three-quarters) had no comorbidities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)950-960
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2022


  • asthma
  • atopic march
  • birth cohorts
  • eczema
  • wheeze


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