Conference Coverage

Pediatric vitiligo primarily affects those aged 10-17



– Among children and adolescents, vitiligo appears to predominately affect nonwhite boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 17 years, results from a large cross-sectional analysis demonstrated.

Dr. Jessica Haber of the department of dermatology at Northwell Health, New York Doug Brunk/MDedge News

Dr. Jessica Haber

During an interview at the annual meeting of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, lead study author Jessica Haber, MD, said that, while it’s known vitiligo can have its onset in childhood, there have been no population-based analyses in the United States specific to children and adolescents with the condition.

“We wanted to examine disease burden in the U.S. specifically, because we have such a diverse population,” said Dr. Haber, a second-year resident in the department of dermatology at Northwell Health, New York.

For the study, she and her associates used IBM’s Explorys research analytics platform to conduct a cross-sectional analysis of more than 55 million unique patients across all census regions of the United States. There were 1,630 vitiligo cases identified from a total of 4,242,400 pediatric patients, for an overall standard prevalence of 0.04%, or 40.1 per 100,000 children and adolescents. The proportion of female and male patients with vitiligo was similar (49.1% and 50.9%, respectively), and nearly three-fourths (72.3%) were 10 years of age or older.

The researchers observed no significant difference in the prevalence of vitiligo between males and females (40.2 per 100,000 vs. 40 per 100,000, respectively). The standardized prevalence of vitiligo was greatest in pediatric patients who were of “other” races and ethnicities (including Asian, Hispanic, multiracial, and other; 69.1 per 100,000), followed by African Americans (51.5 per 100,000) and whites (37.9 per 100,000). There were too few vitiligo cases among biracial patients to determine standardized estimates, but the crude prevalence was greatest in this group (68.7 per 100,000).

Two factors could contribute to the increased prevalence of vitiligo observed in nonwhite children and adolescents, Dr. Haber said. One is selection bias.

“It has been reported that both children and adults with higher Fitzpatrick skin types tend to have increased morbidity of their vitiligo, so it may be a selection bias that these patients are seeking out treatment for their disease,” she said. “Also, according to recent research in the medical literature, increased melanin production may be a risk factor for the development of vitiligo (J Am Acad Dermatol. 2017;77[1]:1-13). That might explain some of our findings, as well.”

While the study findings “don’t necessarily change clinical practice, it is good for us to have a sense of the burden of disease in the pediatric patient population of vitiligo, and to be aware that this is a disease that predominately affects non-Caucasian children and adolescents,” Dr. Haber concluded.

She reported having no financial disclosures.

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