Kids who have eczema have a more diverse set of bacteria in their guts than kids who do not have the condition.

The finding came from new research conducted by a team of experts from the University of Turku, Finland, and was published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Microbiology.

The scientists discovered that the types of bacteria existing in the guts of the children with eczema were more typical of adult gut microbes than for infants without eczema.

Eczema is described as a persistent inflammation of the epidermis; it can also be referred to as atopic dermatitis, or atopic eczema (the most common form of eczema). A recent study found that kids are more likely to develop eczema if they eat fast food 3 or more times a week.

People affected by the condition may develop itchy, reddened, cracked, and dry skin. Previous research demonstrated that giving baths of diluted beach regularly to children with chronic, severe eczema helps reduce the severity of the condition in cases with secondary bacterial infection.

For the purpose of the study, the team of researchers observed children with eczema and those without eczema when they were six and 18 months old. The experts wanted to compare their gut bacteria.

Results showed that all the infants had the same types of bacteria at six months. However, at 18 months, the toddlers with eczema had more of a type of bacteria, known as Clostridium clusters IV and XIVa, which is usually linked to adults.

The kids who were not affected by eczema had higher quantities of Bacteroidetes.

Lotta Nylund, MSc, from University of Turku, Finland, explained:

“The composition of bacteria in a child’s gut depends on its environment and the food it eats. You would expect that as a child’s diet changes so will the bacteria present.

The number of bifidobacteria naturally falls with age and in total we found 21 groups of bacteria which changed in this time period. However it is the early change towards adult-type bacteria which seems to be a risk factor for eczema.”

Written by Sarah Glynn