Using moisturisers on newborn babies does not prevent eczema as previously thought, according to a major new study.
The Barrier Enhancement for Eczema Prevention study, led by the University of Nottingham, examined whether daily use of emollient in the first year could prevent eczema in high-risk children.
The multi-centre, pragmatic, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial was carried out in 12 hospitals and four primary care sites across the UK.
Term newborns with a family history of atopic disease (N=1394) were randomly assigned to application of emollient (either Diprobase cream or DoubleBase gel) daily for the first year plus standard skin-care advice (emollient group; n=693) or standard skin-care advice only (control group; n=701).
Adherence in the emollient group was 88 per cent at three months, 82 per cent at six months, and 74 per cent at 12 months. At age two years, eczema was present in 23 per cent of the emollient group and 25 per cent of control patients (adjusted relative risk, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.78-1.16; P=.61).
Mean number of skin infections per child in year 1 was 0.23 in the emollient group vs 0.15 in the control group (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.15-2.09).
The findings are published in the Lancet.