Vitamin B levels during pregnancy linked to child’s risk for eczema, study says

SOUTHAMPTON, England,  Lower levels of a form of vitamin B during pregnancy may increase the risk for eczema in children, according to researchers in England.

Children are more likely to develop eczema if their mothers had low levels of vitamin B metabolites during pregnancy, according to researchers in England. Photo by Skylines/Shutterstock

Low levels of nicotinamide and related tryptophan metabolites — levels which can be maintained with a proper diet — play a role in development of eczema during pregnancy, University of Southampton researchers report in a study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy.

 The finding confirms what researchers say has been a long-held theory that the skin condition originates during development in the womb, and that bit of knowledge may lead to finding ways of preventing it.
 “More research is needed to investigate this interesting association, but the findings are further evidence of the potential benefits of eating a healthy balanced diet during pregnancy,” Keith Godfrey, a professor at the University of Southampton and director of the Southampton Biomedical Research Center in Nutrition, said in a press release.

For the study, researchers measured maternal serum levels of kynurenine, kynurenic acid, anthranilic acid, tryptophan, nicotinamide and N1-methylnicotinamide in 497 women late in pregnancy.

While levels of the nutrients were not linked with eczema development by six months of age, by the time children reached 12 months, nutrient levels in their mothers during pregnancy could be positively associate with risk for the skin condition.

“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,” said Dr. Sarah El-Heis, a researcher at the University of Southampton and lead researcher on the study. “The findings point to potentially modifiable influences on this common and distressing condition.”

By Stephen Feller