The development of AD in infancy and subsequent asthma and allergic rhinitis in later childhood is known as the atopic march. Atopy is defined as an inherited tendency to produce immunoglobulin E antibodies in response to small amounts of common environmental proteins such as pollen, house dust mites, and food allergens.

Two risk factors have been consistently associated with the development of AD, namely a family history of atopy, and a loss of function mutations in the filaggrin gene.

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