Eczema and the Infant Microbiome

By  8 February 2022 

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What is eczema?

"Eczema is a chronic inflammatory rash that often starts early in life. Eczema has no known cure, and is likely caused by a combination of genes and environmental factors .. and interest has grown regarding the role that gut health plays in eczema development.


The Gut Microbiome and Eczema

The gut microbiome is an important consideration in eczema development because it helps to shape and regulate the developing immune system.

..  studies have shown that these differences in gut microbiome composition are often evident before eczema onset, supporting the significance of the gut microbiome in the development of eczema.

Birth order seems to have a significant impact on the composition of the microbiome. In fact, the lower the ‘birth order number’ (e.g. first- or second-born), the  greater the abundance of a bacterial strain called Clostridium cluster I, and the more likely these children are to develop eczema and allergic disease).

This association has been supported by studies, which have found that babies with an increased number of the Clostridia strain Hungatella hathewayi, were more likely to develop eczema than those with lower levels of this strain.. these results do point to the importance of gut microbiome in the development of eczema. 

Numerous studies have also shown that a less diverse gut microbiome is associated with a greater risk of developing eczema. But how do we encourage a more diverse gut microbiome in our children?



The presence of the strain B. fragilis, a bacteria more abundant in breastfed babies, appears to lower the incidence of eczema development. Current recommendations are to breastfeed if possible. 

If not possible, a formula supplemented with prebiotics and/or probiotics may help to prevent eczema development.


Mode of Delivery

Gut dysbiosis can already be observed in caesarean-born infants within their first few days of life, along with a lower rate of microbial diversity.

These disturbances in the composition of caesarean-born babies’ gut microbiomes have been shown to persist until at least two years of age. Caesarean delivery has been associated with an increase in eczema and allergic disease.. 

One prominent theory is that the gut microbiome colonisation a baby acquires from a vaginal birth, which more closely resembles the mother’s vaginal microbiota, may lower the baby’s risk of developing eczema more successfully than a caesarean-section-associated gut microbiome, which more closely resembles the mother’s skin microbiome.


Antibiotic Use

Antibiotic use can significantly alter the composition of the gut microbiome.  The use of antibiotics in the first few years of life has been associated with reduced microbial diversity and an increased incidence of eczema.


Starting Solids

Be sure to offer your infant a wide variety of plant foods once they are old enough to eat solids. These help to encourage a diverse gut microbiome.


Own a Pet and Get Out in Nature

Exposing your child to as many different microbes, from the soil in your garden, to your animals own microbiomes, will increase the chances of your child developing a diverse gut microbiome.



The developing infant gut microbiome may play an important role in the prevention of eczema development in infants. Being aware of the factors affecting gut diversity, such as breastfeeding, mode of delivery, and antibiotic use, can help to reduce the likelihood of your baby developing eczema."

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