Despite advances in atopic dermatitis (AD) treatments, research into AD prevention has been slow. Systematic reviews of prevention strategies promoting exclusive and prolonged breastfeeding, or interventions that reduce ingested or airborne allergens during pregnancy and after birth have generally not shown convincing benefit. Maternal/infant supplements such as Vitamin D have also not shown any benefit with the possible exception of omega-3 fatty acids. Systematic reviews suggest that probiotics could reduce AD incidence by around 20%, although the studies are quite variable and might benefit from individual patient data meta-analysis. Skin barrier enhancement from birth to prevent AD and food allergy has received recent interest, and results from national trials are awaited. It is possible that trying to influence major immunological changes that characterise AD at birth through infant-directed interventions may be too late, and more attention might be directed at fetal programming in utero.
Keywords: atopic eczema; eczema; prevention; atopic dermatitis.