Researchers from the University of Southampton’s Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit (Southampton, UK) found maternal serum levels of nicotinamide, (a naturally occurring vitamin and form of vitamin B3), and similar metabolites are linked to the risk of atopic eczema in the child. The researchers believe these findings could lead to ways of reducing the risk of eczema and provide support for the argument that eczema originates in the womb as a baby develops. Nicotinamide is important for the body’s energy metabolism and immune responses. It is a type of vitamin B3 maintained through the consumption of tryptophan, an amino acid found in most proteins, as well as the consumption of foods such as mushrooms, nuts, coffee, fish, chicken, and meat. Researchers surveyed nearly 500 women to assess the amount of nicotinamide and related tryptophan metabolites during their pregnancy. Then, they followed rate of eczema in their children at both 6 and 12 months. Results showed that mothers with higher levels of nicotinamide gave their children a 30 percent lower chance of developing atopic eczema at 12 months. The association between higher levels of the tryptophan metabolite, anthracitic acid was even stronger in prevention. “Nicotinamide cream has been used in the treatment of eczema but the link between the mother's levels of nicotinamide during pregnancy and the offspring's risk of atopic eczema has not been previously studied,” says lead researcher Sarah El-Heis, Ph.D. “The findings point to potentially modifiable influences on this common and distressing condition." Nicotinamide can improve the overall feel of skin, from structure to moisture and elasticity and therefore has the potential to alter the disease processes associated with eczema, but has yet to be proven as the sole method of prevention.