Vitamin B3 in Pregnancy and Atopic Dermatitis in Childhood Interview with:
Dr Sarah El-Heis MBBS, MRCP (London)
Clinical Research Fellow
MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit
University of Southampton
Southampton General Hospital
Southampton What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Atopic eczema is a common, multifactorial and potentially distressing skin condition. Evidence that it partly originates in utero is increasing with some studies suggesting links with aspects of maternal diet during pregnancy.

Nicotinamide is a naturally occurring nutrient that is maintained through the dietary intakes of vitamin B3 and tryptophan. As a topical treatment it has been used in the management of some skin conditions including atopic eczema, and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, to stabilise mast cells and to alter lipids in the outer layers of the skin.

The objective of our study was to examine the link between maternal serum concentrations of nicotinamide and related tryptophan metabolites to the risk of atopic eczema in the offspring.

We found that maternal late pregnancy concentrations of nicotinamide and related metabolite concentrations were not associated with offspring atopic eczema at age 6 months. Higher maternal serum concentrations of nicotinamide and anthranilic acid were, however, associated with a 30% lower risk of eczema at age 12 months. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our findings support the evidence that atopic eczema partly originates in utero and point to potentially modifiable maternal influences on this complex and highly prevalent condition.

Maternal concentrations of nicotinamide and anthranilic acid were associated with infant eczema at age 12 months but not at age 6 months; this could reflect heterogeneity in the aetiology and pathogenesis of atopic eczema in early childhood. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The tryptophan pathway has not been intensively investigated and we hope our data will stimulate more intensive investigation including examining the determinants of maternal serum nicotinamide and tryptophan metabolite levels and analysis of genetic variants.

Replicating the findings in other populations is important, as is investigation of dietary influences on maternal tryptophan metabolism. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


S. El-Heis, S. R. Crozier, S. M. Robinson, N. C. Harvey, C. Cooper, H. M. Inskip, K. M. Godfrey. 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. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/cea.12782

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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