Researchers have found that physicians can predict the future risk of eczema in children via simple skin swabs. Their findings show that collecting cells from the top layers of a week-old baby’s skin using sticky strips can allow doctors to predict whether the infant will develop eczema.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common type of eczema. It is characterized by itchy, dry and inflamed skin. While it can occur at any age, the condition is very common in young children.
The condition also increases a patient’s risk of developing asthma, hay fever and food allergies. It affects close to 30% of children across the globe and can have a significant impact on the quality of life of affected people and their families.
Donald Leung, senior researcher and head of pediatric allergy and clinical immunology at the National Jewish Center, says that the best way to deal with AD is to avoid it as it tends to recur even after treatment. The researchers analyzed the levels of lipids and cytokines in the outermost layer of the epidermis (stratum corneum) to identify if children would develop atopic dermatitis when they were two years old.
After collecting stratum corneum samples from more than 100 two-month-old babies using skin tape strips, the researchers sought to identify biomarkers that show the probability of developing AD later in life. They used liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry to analyze the samples for lipid molecules. The samples also underwent cytokine analysis to give researchers a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind local immune responses and skin barrier function.
Of the 74 babies who were at risk of developing AD due to family history, 29.7% developed AD by the time they were two years old. On the other hand, only 13.5% of the 37 babies who were not at risk developed atomic dermatitis.
All of the infants who later developed atopic dermatitis had considerably reduced levels of protein-bound ceramides and high levels of alpha-hydroxy fatty acid sphingosine ceramides, “short-chain” non-hydroxy and unsaturated sphingomyelin species. Additionally, interleukin (IL-)13 and thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) levels were up by 78.3% and 74.5% respectively.
Overall, the researchers found that family history in combination with skin biomarkers could allow physicians to predict the later development of AD with relative accuracy. They said that the combination of the two would give clinicians “unprecedented powers of prediction” and allow for more precise treatments for atopic dermatitis.
The study’s findings were published in the “Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.”
For individuals who are already experiencing atopic dermatitis, the future may be brighter as entities such as Jupiter Wellness Inc. (NASDAQ: JUPW) finalize and bring to market the superior topical treatments that they have been developing.
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