Eczema, or itchy and inflamed skin caused by environmental allergies, is becoming an increasingly prominent health issue in developed nations. However, a recent study conducted in Uganda has suggested a method of preventing eczema before a child is even born.
Research published in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology found that children who are exposed to worm infections in utero are less likely to develop skin allergies later in life.
These findings emerged from data collected on more than 2,500 babies and their mothers. The study’s authors analyzed medical records for treatments related to helminths, a group of parasitic worms that includes hookworms and pinworms.
They found that expecting mothers who had been treated with a course of antihelmintic drugs were more likely to have a baby with eczema.
In particular, the drug albendazole made a child 80 percent more likely to be eczematic, while another, praziquantel, increased a baby’s risk of the skin condition a full two and a half times.
Researchers concluded that mild helminth infections may actually benefit children in the long run. Similar studies have upheld the idea that children who are not excessively hygienic or exposed to antibiotics may be less prone to allergies.
One in five humans has eczema, according to the World Health Organization.