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Research findings

Oil baths do not prevent atopic eczema in infants

Published

Regular oil baths or early introduction of solid foods in addition to breastfeeding do not prevent atopic eczema in the first year of life.

lite barn som har eksem
Illustrasjonsfoto: Colourbox.com

Regular oil baths or early introduction of solid foods in addition to breastfeeding do not prevent atopic eczema in the first year of life.


These are the findings1 from the PreventADALL study, a collaborative project between researchers at Oslo University Hospital, Østfold Hospital, Karolinska Institute, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Refutes findings from earlier studies

Two smaller studies published in 2014 in Japan2 and the USA / UK3, with just over 100 children in each study who were at high risk of atopic eczema, showed that using daily skin emollients (moisturisers) from early infancy reduced eczema by 30-50 per cent by 6-12 months of age.

However, the PreventADALL study with 2,400 mother-child pairs shows that neither daily oil baths from two weeks of age nor early introduction of solid food reduce the incidence of atopic eczema in children at the age of one year. The results for moisturising treatment are supported by the BEEP study from Nottingham University, UK, which showed that the use of moisturisers on approximately 1,400 babies did not reduce the incidence of atopic eczema4.

“The PreventADALL study suggests that we cannot recommend regular oil baths or early introduction of solid foods as measures to prevent atopic eczema,” says Dr Berit Granum, senior researcher at the Department of Toxicology and Risk at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

About the study

  • PreventADALL (Preventing Atopic Dermatitis and ALLergies) is a large international study that began in December 2014.
  • The aims were to :
    • investigate whether simple measures in the first year of life can reduce the development of allergic diseases
    • identify whether environmental and lifestyle factors in pregnancy, childbirth and childhood affect the development of allergic disease and other common diseases, also later in life
    • learn more about risk factors to identify measures to reduce the development of chronic diseases and give better general health
  • The study included 2,400 mother-child pairs from a general healthy population, i.e. participants without any increased risk of allergic disease.
  • Participants were recruited at Oslo University Hospital, Østfold Hospital and Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.
  • The children were randomly assigned to one of four groups:
    • no special measures
    • skincare in the form of regular bathing with bath oil up to 9 months of age
    • early introduction of supplementary food alongside breastfeeding
    • both measures
  • The children were followed closely with clinical examinations at 3, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months of age.

References

  1. Håvard Ove Skjerven, Eva Maria Rehbinder, Riyas Vettukattil, Marissa LeBlanc, Berit Granum et al. Skin emollient and early complementary feeding to prevent infant atopic dermatitis (PreventADALL): a factorial, multicentre, cluster-randomised trial. Lancet 2020. Online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)32983-6
  2. Horimukai K, Morita K, Narita M, et al. Application of moisturizer to neonates prevents development of atopic dermatitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014; 134: 824–30.e6.
  3. Simpson EL, Chalmers JR, Hanifin JM, et al. Emollient enhancement of the skin barrier from birth offers effective atopic dermatitis prevention. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2014; 134: 818–23.
  4. Joanne R Chalmers, Rachel H Haines et al. Daily emollient during infancy for prevention of eczema: the BEEP randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2020. Online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(19)32984-8

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