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Lien alimentation infantile et eczéma.

Is there a connection between infant nutrition and eczema?

Eczema is a common skin condition in children and infants, causing concern for many parents. One aspect that garners much interest is the potential link between infant diet and eczema. Using current scientific knowledge, let's explore this relationship together.

Summary
Published February 8, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read

Eczema, in brief.

Eczema is a skin disease characterised by red lesions and intense itching. It is a common condition, ranking second in the most widespread skin diseases, following acne. Children and infants are particularly affected, with an estimated prevalence of about 17% in children aged 6 to 11 years. Eczema can be of genetic origin or acquired, depending on its form.

Atopiceczema is one of the most common forms of eczema and is associated with a genetic predisposition. Individuals with atopic eczema exhibit an alteration in the skin barrier, characterised by an increased permeability of the stratum corneum. This results in a significant loss of water and facilitates the penetration of microorganisms and allergens into the skin. It is also possible to suffer from eczema without a genetic predisposition. In this case, it is a contact eczema caused by an allergic reaction to a specific substance in the environment.

Is there a link between infant nutrition and eczema?

Many studies have explored the potential link between eczema and infant nutrition, particularly breast milk. Before presenting the conclusions of these researches, it is crucial to remember thatto breastfeed or not is a choice that belongs to each woman and each couple. Indeed, in some cases, the question does not arise and it is impossible for the mother to breastfeed for health reasons. That being said, the results of studies on the effects of breast milk on the development of eczema are quite contradictory.

  • The protective effects of breast milk?

    Some studies conducted on children deemed "at risk of allergies", meaning they have at least one first-degree parent suffering from atopic dermatitis, have concluded that a breastfeeding duration of at least six months is associated with a lower prevalence of eczema at the ages of one and three years. Furthermore, a review of scientific literature examined 56 publications released between 1996 and 2001 and found that just over half of them concluded that breastfeeding plays a protective role against atopic dermatitis. This protection would be even more significant in children with a family history of eczema. The other half of the studies estimated that breastfeeding had no protective effect, and two studies even concluded that it was an aggravating factor.

    In conclusion, a significant body of research suggests that exclusive breastfeeding for at least three months could potentially prevent the onset of atopic dermatitis in children considered "at risk of allergies", while partial breastfeeding does not appear to have the same protective effect. The preventative effect of breastfeeding on eczema was not found in children not considered "at risk of allergies".

  • Aggravating effects of breast milk?

    As previously discussed, studies regarding the link between infant nutrition and eczema are somewhat contradictory. One such study followed 1314 children, from their birth to their seventh year. The researchers concluded that each month of breastfeeding increased the risk of eczema by 3% in the first seven years of life. However, another more recent study did not confirm these results. This latter study included 2405 children and found no significant effect, either beneficial or harmful, of breastfeeding on the incidence of eczema during the first year of life.

  • And what about cow's milk?

    Cow's milk often gets a bad rap when it comes to eczema. Indeed, many sources suggest that it could cause atopic dermatitis. However, this is not accurate: cow's milk does not cause eczema but can, in some cases, exacerbate it. Casein and whey, proteins found in cow's milk, are sometimes poorly tolerated by infants and can intensify eczema flare-ups. To be certain, we advise you to seek medical advice. Only a doctor, dermatologist or allergist will be able to assist your baby and provide advice on their diet.

Sources

  • VIDAILHET M. & al. Alimentation des premiers mois de vie et prévention de l’allergie. Archives de pédiatrie (2008).

  • SAURAT J. H., LACHAPELLE J. M., LIPSKER D., THOMAS L. et BORRADORI L. Dermatologie et infections sexuellement transmissibles. Elsevier Masson (2017).

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