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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS - 30/1/09

Can diet help alleviate eczema?

Friday January 30th, 2009

Researchers have investigated whether excluding foods from the diet can help treat childhood eczema - and concluded there is little evidence of benefit.

Dr Fiona Bath-Hextall and her team from Nottingham University, UK, explain that allergic eczema is very common among children in developed countries. They say that it is widely believed that avoiding certain foods can improve eczema in some children, but much of the evidence is unreliable.

The team reviewed the evidence from nine studies on diet and eczema. A total of 421 children were involved in the research. Foods avoided in the studies included eggs and milk. Some studies put the children on a limited number of foods, or a so-called "elemental diet" - a specially formulated liquid meal that contains all the necessary nutrients.

Overall, there seemed to be no benefit from any of the diets. The only approach that may help is using an egg-free diet for infants with eczema who have a suspected egg allergy.

Writing in the journal Allergy, the team say: "Despite their frequent use, we find little good quality evidence to support the use of exclusion diets in atopic eczema."

They also warn that there can be serious consequences to any changes in diet which leave the child low in calories, protein or minerals such as calcium. "Many parents experiment by excluding particular foods suspected of causing a reaction," they write, but "avoidance of multiple foods is potentially hazardous and requires continued paediatric and dietary supervision".

The experts highlight the importance of allergy testing before any food is excluded.

Bath-Hextall, F., Delamere, F. M. and Williams, H. C. Dietary exclusions for improving established atopic eczema in adults and children: systematic review. Allergy, published online January 16, 2009.

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Dermatology | Nutrition & Healthy Eating | UK News

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