If a mother has a higher level of a particular type of vitamin B during pregnancy, the infant she gives birth to will likely have a lower risk of eczema at the age of 12 months, according to a study released Friday by the University of Southampton.
The study assessed the amount of nicotinamide and related tryptophan metabolites during pregnancy in 497 women that took part in the Southampton survey. The rates of eczema in their children at the ages of six and 12 months were studied, according to the university.
Results showed that offspring of mothers with higher levels of nicotinamide had a 30 percent lower chance of developing atopic eczema at 12 months. There was an even stronger association with higher levels of anthranilic acid, a tryptophan metabolite.
Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B3. Its level is maintained through intake of foods such as fish, meat, chicken, mushrooms, nuts and coffee as well as tryptophan, an amino acid found in most proteins.
Nicotinamide can improve the overall structure, moisture and elasticity of skin and, therefore, could potentially alter the disease processes associated with eczema, according to the study.
"Nicotinamide cream has been used in the treatment of eczema but the link between the mother's levels of nicotinamide during pregnancy and the offspring's risk of atopic eczema has not been previously studied. The findings point to potentially modifiable influences on this common and distressing condition," said Dr. Sarah El-Heis, the study's lead researcher from the University of Southampton.
The study has been published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy.
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