The important link between baby eczema and food allergies by Dr. Katie Marks-Cogan, Chief Allergist

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Eczema is a common skin condition that affects up to 10 million children in the U.S. In addition to causing inflamed, irritated skin, eczema also directly affects a child’s risk for developing food allergies. If your child has eczema, it could be a predictor for serious allergies down the road. Read on to learn more about eczema, it’s important connection to food allergies, and the latest guidelines for introducing your child to foods that could cause allergies.

What is eczema?

Eczema is most common in children and affects up to 10 million children under the age of 18. The most common type of eczema, atopic dermatitis, causes patches of skin that are red, rough, and/or irritated. Approximately 90% of children with atopic dermatitis experience their first symptoms before 5 years of age. While eczema is not contagious, it does need to be treated in order to improve. There’s no cure for eczema, but there are ways to manage and control your child’s eczema flares and monitor their skin to reduce rashes.

What causes eczema?

There are studies to suggest that eczema is more common in children with a family history of the condition.  Children who also have asthma or hay fever have a 30% to 50% chance of having eczema. However, there is no known cause of eczema.

The strong connection between eczema and food allergies

Eczema and food allergies are part of a series of conditions known as the “atopic march.” This term describes the tendency for a child to develop first eczema, and then food allergies, hay fever, and asthma, often in this order. It’s important for parents of babies with eczema to be aware of the atopic march, because if a child has eczema, then these other conditions could follow. And because eczema usually is the first condition to appear, eczema is a strong predictor for the other conditions, most notably food allergies.

Eczema is an important risk factor for food allergies

In fact, eczema is the most important risk factor for the development of food allergies. Depending on the severity of a child’s eczema, they can be at up to an 8x higher risk for developing food allergies.

Because of this, new research and expert guidelines have been particularly focused on babies with eczema.

New food allergy guidelines for babies with eczema

In 2017, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) published new guidelines based on findings from this research. These guidelines now recommend — especially for babies with eczema — to introduce allergens such as peanut, egg, and milk at 4-11 months of age. Research shows that introducing allergens in this timeframe is particularly important because it can significantly reduce a child’s risk of developing food allergies. However, you should be sure to check with your child’s health care provider first to determine if an allergy screening is required before introducing allergens, especially if your child has severe eczema or a known food allergy. And be sure to check with them if you have any questions at all about eczema, food allergies, or how to safely introduce allergens and solid food to your child.


Ready, Set, Food! and their team of leading physicians are on a mission to help parents prevent 80% of food allergies with their easy, all-natural, safe early allergen introduction system. Remember to always check with your child’s healthcare provider before introducing any allergens (such as peanut, egg, and milk) to your child, especially if your child has eczema or a food allergy.


Sources

  • “Eczema Facts.” National Eczema Association. National Eczema Association. Retrieved May 22 2020. https://nationaleczema.org/research/eczema-facts/.
  • “Guidelines for Clinicians and Patients for Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. National Institutes of Health and Human Services, October 24 2018. Retrieved May 22 2020. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/guidelines-clinicians-and-patients-food-allergy 

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