Newborn biomarker shows early eczema risk

A new biomarker indicates whether a baby is at a risk of developing eczema within the first two years of life, a conference is to hear today.

Dr Anne-Sofie Halling of the Bispebjerg Hospital at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues analysed skin cells from 450 full-term and preterm babies at birth to three days, and at two months, to find immune biomarkers linked to eczema over the next two years.

This showed that babies with elevated levels of the cytokine thymus and activation-regulated chemokine had double the rate of eczema by two years, even when parental allergies and eczema were taken into account.

In addition, higher levels of this cytokine were linked to a greater severity of eczema.

Findings are released at the 31st European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress held in Milan, Italy and online.

Dr Halling said: “To our knowledge, this is the first study to show that non-invasively collected skin biomarkers can be used to predict the subsequent onset and severity of paediatric atopic eczema.”

“The study will help us investigate and create future preventative strategies for children with elevated thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) levels to help stop the development of this common and debilitating disease, which is an exciting prospect.”

She added: “The test is painless and easy to perform and can help us to identify skin changes that occur prior to the development of eczema, particularly for the most severe forms of the disease. This provides a window of opportunity to develop targeted trials and prevent cases of eczema from occurring.”

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