Infant eczema

5 mins
Overview
Newborn baby suffering from infant eczema
Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema.

Atopic eczema mainly affects children, causing their skin to become dry, red, cracked and itchy and usually occurs in folds of the skin (e.g. behind the knees, inside the elbows, on the sides of the neck, around the eyes and ears).

About 20% of children in the UK and Ireland have eczema.1,2 It often manifests before the first birthday.1 The exact cause of infant eczema is unknown, but there is thought to be a strong genetic element and, in some cases, it is linked with other allergies.

Newborn eczema – common allergens

Atopic eczema can sometimes be triggered by food allergens, especially before the age of 1 year. Common food allergens include:

  • Cows’ milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Soya
  • Wheat

Other allergens triggering infant eczema include; house-dust mites, pet fur and pollen.

Advice to pass on to parents

For all infants, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of life – it is the best nutrition for babies and also offers the best protection against allergy development, such as newborn eczema. If exclusive breastfeeding is not possible, infants at increased risk of developing allergic disease may benefit from the use of a specially developed formula with a documented preventive effect for the first 4 months of life (as recommended by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology).3,4

Reducing the risk of developing infant eczema

Reducing the risk of developing allergy in bottle-fed infants has been a major focus of research.5 The German Infant Nutritional Intervention (GINI) Study6,7 – the world’s largest independent study looking at the prevention of allergies (2,252 babies) – demonstrated that certain formulas can reduce the risk of a baby developing atopic eczema by 50% in the first year of life. This applied to high-risk babies who had a family history of the condition, with at least one parent or sibling with an allergy.7

Clinical guidelines, such as those developed by the European Academy for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), suggest choosing a formula that has been clinically proven.8 Not all hydrolysed formulas have been found to reduce the risk of developing infant eczema.
 

References Show all Hide all
  1. NHS Choices. (2016). Atopic eczema. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/ Accessed September 2018.

  2. Irish Skin Foundation. https://irishskin.ie/eczema/ Accessed September 2018

  3. Fleischer DM et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2013; 1: 29–36.

  4. de Silva D et al. Allergy 2014; 69: 581–589.

  5. Alexander DD, Cabana MD. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2010; 50: 422–430.

  6. von Berg A et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003; 111: 533–540.

  7. von Berg A et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008; 121: 1442–1447.

  8. Muraro A et al. Allergy 2014; 69: 590–601.

Important Notice:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that pregnant women and new mothers be informed on the benefits and superiority of breastfeeding – in particular the fact that it provides the best nutrition and protection from illness for babies. Mothers should be given guidance on the preparation for, and maintenance of, lactation, with special emphasis on the importance of a well-balanced diet both during pregnancy and after delivery. Unnecessary introduction of partial bottle-feeding or other foods and drinks should be discouraged since it will have a negative effect on breastfeeding. Similarly, mothers should be warned of the difficulty of reversing a decision not to breastfeed. Before advising a mother to use an infant formula, she should be advised of the social and financial implications of her decision: for example, if a baby is exclusively bottle-fed, more than one can (400 g) per week will be needed, so the family circumstances and costs should be kept in mind. Mothers should be reminded that breast milk is not only the best, but also the most economical food for babies. If a decision to use an infant formula is taken, it is important to give instructions on correct preparation methods, emphasising that unboiled water, unsterilised bottles or incorrect dilution can all lead to illness.

Newborn baby suffering from infant eczema
5 mins

Infant eczema

Overview
Atopic eczema is the most common form of eczema.

Atopic eczema mainly affects children, causing their skin to become dry, red, cracked and itchy and usually occurs in folds of the skin (e.g. behind the knees, inside the elbows, on the sides of the neck, around the eyes and ears).

About 20% of children in the UK and Ireland have eczema.1,2 It often manifests before the first birthday.1 The exact cause of infant eczema is unknown, but there is thought to be a strong genetic element and, in some cases, it is linked with other allergies.

Newborn eczema – common allergens

Atopic eczema can sometimes be triggered by food allergens, especially before the age of 1 year. Common food allergens include:

  • Cows’ milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Soya
  • Wheat

Other allergens triggering infant eczema include; house-dust mites, pet fur and pollen.

Advice to pass on to parents

For all infants, exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first 6 months of life – it is the best nutrition for babies and also offers the best protection against allergy development, such as newborn eczema. If exclusive breastfeeding is not possible, infants at increased risk of developing allergic disease may benefit from the use of a specially developed formula with a documented preventive effect for the first 4 months of life (as recommended by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology).3,4

Reducing the risk of developing infant eczema

Reducing the risk of developing allergy in bottle-fed infants has been a major focus of research.5 The German Infant Nutritional Intervention (GINI) Study6,7 – the world’s largest independent study looking at the prevention of allergies (2,252 babies) – demonstrated that certain formulas can reduce the risk of a baby developing atopic eczema by 50% in the first year of life. This applied to high-risk babies who had a family history of the condition, with at least one parent or sibling with an allergy.7

Clinical guidelines, such as those developed by the European Academy for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI), suggest choosing a formula that has been clinically proven.8 Not all hydrolysed formulas have been found to reduce the risk of developing infant eczema.
 

References Show all Hide all
  1. NHS Choices. (2016). Atopic eczema. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/atopic-eczema/ Accessed September 2018.

  2. Irish Skin Foundation. https://irishskin.ie/eczema/ Accessed September 2018

  3. Fleischer DM et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract 2013; 1: 29–36.

  4. de Silva D et al. Allergy 2014; 69: 581–589.

  5. Alexander DD, Cabana MD. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2010; 50: 422–430.

  6. von Berg A et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003; 111: 533–540.

  7. von Berg A et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2008; 121: 1442–1447.

  8. Muraro A et al. Allergy 2014; 69: 590–601.