Early exposure to bacteria could prevent childhood eczema

Melbourne: Australian scientists have claimed to have found that the amount of microbial bacteria a baby is exposed to in the first week of life could determine whether they develop childhood eczema.

A study done on 98 infants by Murdoch Children`s Research Institute in Melbourne found that those who developed the skin condition at 12 months of age had fewer and less diverse intestinal bacteria than they did earlier in life.

The study`s lead author Mimi Tang said introducing good bacteria into a child`s diet could prevent eczema from developing.

"It`s quite possible that by preventing eczema, we can have an impact on preventing other allergic problems later on, such as asthma and hayfever," she said.

"Asthma is the most common chronic illness affecting children.
It affects one in four children at school and certainly has a very significant impact on quality of life," she added.

She said exposing children to common germs would also help alleviate the problem.

"A good idea would be to allow kids to get back to the way our ancestors lived a little bit, rolling around in the dirt," she said.

"Sure you want to wash your hands before you eat because you don`t want to catch a parasite or a worm, but I think perhaps we`re being a little over-cautious at the minute," she added.