According to a recent study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy, researchers linked maternal serum nicotinamide levels and its related metabolites to an increased risk of eczema in the infant.
Infants whose mothers had higher levels of nicotinamide during pregnancy had a lower risk of eczema at age 12 months. Researchers believe that eczema partly arises as a baby develops during pregnancy, which may help bring to light an approach to reduce the risk of developing this condition.
Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3, is naturally found in fish, meat, chicken, mushrooms, nuts and coffee. It plays an important role in the body's immune response and in energy metabolism. Nicotinamide cream is already being used in the treatment of eczema; however, the link between the mother's levels of nicotinamide during pregnancy and the child's risk of developing eczema had not been previously studied.
This new study assessed nicotinamide levels as well as related tryptophan metabolites in 497 pregnant women. The rates of eczema in their children at ages 6 and 12 months were studied. The results demonstrated that children of mothers with higher levels of nicotinamide had a 30% decreased risk of developing atopic eczema at 12 months. There was an even stronger association with higher levels of anthranilic acid, a tryptophan metabolite.
One of nicotinamide’s roles is that it helps improve the structure, moisture, and elasticity of skin. While this study showed an association between higher maternal nicotinamide and anthranilic acid levels and a lower risk of eczema, this does not mean that eczema is prevented by simply supplementing with these nutrients. As we know, all conditions are multifactorial. Each person's biochemical individuality exerts a major influence on his or her health, and the nutrient intake that maintains optimal health is highly variable from person to person. Lifestyle choices and environmental exposures filtered through genetic predisposition are significant factors in the expression of disease and a successful treatment approach must investigate these factors.
We know that lifestyle, environment, and nutrients play a critical role during pregnancy and in infants. A study I shared two weeks ago in Nature Medicine demonstrated the link between the gut microbiome of one month old infants and an increased risk of allergies later in life. This identified the impact on imbalances in the gut microbiome which we know can contribute to dermatological symptoms.
Stress during pregnancy can also play a role. A study published March 2015 in Psychoneuroendocrinology demonstrated that women who experience stress during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with a dysbiosis, with a higher incidence of gastrointestinal issues and allergic reactions. The results of this study indicate a possible mechanism for health problems in children of mothers who experience stress during pregnancy. According to researchers, taking probiotics during pregnancy would probably benefit these children's development.
Pregnant women or women preparing for pregnancy know the importance of a good prenatal vitamin, dietary folate, and even fish oil, but many may not think of a probiotic as an essential supplement during pregnancy. Pregnant women experiencing stress have a limited number of options for what nutritional supplements they can take. There are great adaptogenic botanical herbs to support stress and adrenal health. However, many of these are contraindicated during pregnancy, or there is simply not enough research to support their use during pregnancy, so these are typically avoided. Probiotics, on the other hand, may be able to counteract the dysbiosis caused by stress and are safe to use during pregnancy.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
Source: S. El-Heis, S. R. Crozier, S. M. Robinson, N. C. Harvey, C. Cooper, H. M. Inskip, K. M. Godfrey. Higher maternal serum concentrations of nicotinamide and related metabolites in late pregnancy are associated with a lower risk of offspring atopic eczema at age 12 months. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/cea.12782