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Infant Eczema

The Mom Factor: Maternal Influences on Infant Eczema

Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, affects about 20% of children worldwide. AD is most often seen early in life, which is thought to be due to the interplay between environmental factors and the developing immune system.

Maternal factors are suspected of influencing a child’s chances of developing AD and a recent study reviewed what is known about these maternal influences. The study found that some factors seemed to have greater weight than others.

Maternal genetics play a strong role in determining whether AD will develop: a loss-of-function mutation in the maternal filaggrin gene is associated with AD in offspring and mitochondrial inheritance may be associated with greater frequency of AD in children. Additionally, certain maternal polymorphisms may be associated with atopy. There are some immunologic factors that also may play a part in increasing the risk of developing AD.

Low numbers of regulatory T-cells in cord blood were associated with higher risk of developing AD. Maternal hay fever, maternal proinflammatory cytokine levels and tobacco exposure during pregnancy were related to smaller numbers of regulatory T-cells in the cord blood.

The effect of maternal nutrition is less clear. Prenatal nutrition, including taking probiotics and Vitamin E had a significant effect in reducing risk of developing AD, but other specific diets had no such association.

Breastfeeding infants contributes a protective factor against developing AD. Lifestyle behaviors have been linked to increased risk in various studies. This review found some evidence that prenatal maternal tobacco and alcohol use increased risk, but could not make as strong of link for other factors such as occupation. However, stress is a factor that increases risk and pregnant women should be counseled on ways to reduce stress.

The authors conclude that mothers with a family history of eczema should be counseled about alcohol and tobacco use as well as encouraged to consider a probiotic during pregnancy. The authors state that the link between maternal factors and the development of AD in children are undeniable, but further studies are needed to determine the true extent and effect of interventions.


Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Posted: July 6, 2017

Source: Wiley Online Library
Adapted from the original article.

[Image: Shutterstock]


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