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Vitamin B3 levels during pregnancy linked to eczema risk in infants at 12 months of age

At a Glance: A new study has found that higher blood levels of nicotinamide during pregnancy is linked to a lower risk of developing eczema in infants at age 12 months.

A study has found that higher blood levels of nicotinamide (a form of the essential water-soluble vitamin B3 or Niacin) during pregnancy is linked to a lower risk of developing eczema in infants at age 12 months. This study is the first to link maternal serum levels of nicotinamide and related metabolites, to the risk of developing eczema in offspring.

The study, published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy, assessed the amount of nicotinamide and related tryptophan metabolites in 497 pregnant women participating in the Southampton Women’s Survey. Nicotinamide and other forms of B3 are important for the body's immune responses and energy metabolism. Good food sources include poultry, fish (tuna and salmon), meat, mushrooms, peanuts, fortified cereals, brewer's yeast, and through the amino acid tryptophan from protein. Most multivitamins also include vitamin B3.

Researchers analyzed serum levels of nicotinamide of the mothers and the rates of eczema in their children at ages 6 and 12 months. Results showed that children of mothers with higher levels of nicotinamide had a 30 percent lower risk of developing atopic eczema at 12 months. There was an even stronger association with higher levels of anthranilic acid, a tryptophan metabolite.

This study supports the concept that eczema partly originates as a baby develops in the womb and could reveal ways of reducing the risk of this skin condition, the researchers said. Professor Keith Godfrey, Director of the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre in Nutrition, noted: '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."

El-Heis S, Crozier SR, Robinson SM, Harvey NC, Cooper C, Inskip HM. 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. Clin Exp Allergy. 2016 Oct;46(10):1337-43.

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