Eczema Prevalence Rising…Except Among Fish-Eating Infants? Print Write e-mail
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Eczema - Eczema 2008
Written by Frank Mangano   
Tuesday, 30 September 2008 17:10

Young Girl Applying Lotion to Her Itchy Eczema

An Itch for Fish

Name the disease and the consumption of fish reduces the risk of getting it. I’ve written about the importance of including seafood in one’s diet at length: Eating oily fish like salmon, mackerel and herring (these are best, but any fish will do, so long as it’s not fried) just twice a week reduces the risk of suffering a heart attack, a stroke or other cardiac-related death significantly (a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that just 4.6 percent of people that go into cardiac arrest survive). But a new study says that the consumption of fish has the potential to reduce a disease that appears to be on the rise in recent years among the younger generation: eczema.

Granted, eczema isn’t a serious health condition like heart disease or cancer, but it is an irritant, an irritant so, well, irritating, that it can diminish one’s productivity and general enjoyment of life (constant itching and scratching can make for many a sleepless night).

Before I get into the study itself, a little refresher course on what eczema is might be in order.

To put it as simply as possible, eczema is a skin condition that results from an allergic reaction to any number of things, including soap, the environment, detergents, particular clothing fabrics, moisturizers, even the weather. In fact, there are so many possible “triggers” for eczema, it’s almost impossible to know what exactly it is that causes it. And because there’s no known cure for eczema, flare-ups are common place among those that suffer from it, not knowing what their interacting with that’s causing the flare-ups to begin with.

As such, eczema sufferers, most of them children (it’s estimated that 20 percent are affected by it) must be burdened with vials of cream attached to their hip, applying a generous lather of the stuff whenever the urge to itch arises.

But according to a recent body of research on eczema and infancy, children that ate fish before nine months old reduced their risk of getting eczema by 25 percent compared to those children whose diet did not include fish. These findings were part of a larger Swedish-based study of 17,000 babies. Besides the fish, the researchers said genetics seemed to play a role as well; approximately half of the babies with eczema had a mother or sibling with eczema (eczema is not contagious). The study is set to be published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

So, while a diet with fish in it isn’t a cure or treatment for eczema once it’s diagnosed, it does seem to be a preventive treatment for eczema – just as fish helps prevent heart disease and stroke.

Eczema is not serious. Millions of people afflicted by its itchy conditions live long, healthy lives…despite the scratching. In fact, while there’s no known cure for it, many haven’t experienced an eczema-related flare-up for years because they’ve successfully pinpointed the irritant and are now avoiding it (or have done so unwittingly). But it’s fair to say that those that have eczema would rather not have it in their lives at all. And while eczema is on the rise in developed countries over the past 10 years, you can reduce that chance for your child by including fish in their diets at an early age. With any luck, they’ll grow to love it for the rest of their lives…the fish, that is.



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