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Eczema can be a frustrating, uncomfortable, and, for some, distressing condition to deal with.
Depending on the severity — and it varies — you can suffer from scaley patches, redness, dryness, itching and pain.
According to the National Eczema Association, a whopping 31.6 million people in the United States live with eczema.
But what you might not know, however, is that the peak prevalence of the disease occurs in early childhood.
In fact, it’s estimated that one in six children below the age of five will suffer from atopic eczema, with one-third of children living with moderate to severe disease.
Sadly, over recent decades this level has only risen.
But there is good news…
Thanks to researchers University of Southampton, there is now an easy way to reduce the risk of eczema and keep your baby safe from the condition if you’re currently pregnant.
And all it takes is getting more of a safe, natural vitamin that does wonders for your health.
One more win for the sunshine vitamin
So which vitamin did the researchers discover has the potential to ward off eczema from the start?
Vitamin D or “the sunshine vitamin.”
Yup, the vitamin that’s been associated with lowering the risk of high blood pressure and heart problems, maintaining better blood sugar and keeping depression at bay could also be the secret to defeating your baby’s risk of this common skin disease.
Of course, the vitamin’s ability to shore up and strengthen the immune system is what turned the researchers on to its eczema-fighting potential.
“We know that Vitamin D can affect the immune system and the proteins that make up our skin,” said Professor Keith Godfrey, one of the authors of the study. “We were interested to know if vitamin D supplements taken by pregnant women would have an impact on their child’s risk of atopic eczema.”
For the study, the team recruited more than 700 pregnant women, 352 who took 1,000 mg of vitamin D daily from the time they were 14 weeks pregnant until they gave birth and 351 who were given a placebo.
And the results were clear…
Supplementing vitamin D made a difference
First, for adults living with eczema, we already know vitamin D may be very beneficial.
According to the National Eczema Foundation blog, Dr. Peter Lio, assistant professor of clinical dermatology and pediatrics at Northwestern University explains that for eczema, the main factor seems to relate to immune system regulation, with research showing that vitamin D can:
- help modulate immune responses in various inflammatory and autoimmune diseases;
- suppress overall inflammation;
- promote a stronger skin barrier; and
- lessen the severity of eczema symptoms.
So it’s not surprising what this most recent research found…
“Our results showed that babies of mothers who received supplements had a lower chance of having atopic eczema at 12 months, which supports recommendations for Vitamin D supplements to be routine during pregnancy,” said Dr. Sarah El-Heis, first author of the paper.
Great news, right?
But here’s the catch…
“We found no effect at 24 and 48 months suggesting that other postnatal influences might become more important beyond infancy or that the babies themselves might also need to be supplemented during the postnatal period for a sustained effect,” she continued.
In other words, taking vitamin D while you’re pregnant could help protect your baby from eczema for their first year of life. But after that, you should consult with your child’s pediatrician about how to best maintain healthy vitamin D levels that may continue to stave off the development of eczema.
Never attempt to give children supplements made for adults. For eczema, Dr. Lio recommends 4,000 IU per day for adults. For infants and toddlers, he indicated that vitamin D drops designed for babies, generally 400 IU per day, work best. He said that older children should take 1,000 IU per day, also as drops.
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Eczema Stats – National Eczema Association