Eczema is a chronic inflammatory skin condition. It affects 1 in 5 children under the age of 2, estimates Oxford University Hospitals.

Eczema in babies may be prevented with diet. Here’s what the research says and what you can do to help your baby avoid developing eczema.

Breastfeeding can offer many benefits. It provides babies nutrients and antibodies that help prevent disease. Avoiding eczema may be another one.

A 2018 study found teens who were breastfed during their first 4 to 6 months of life had a 54 percent lower risk of developing eczema in adolescence.

Recommended diet while pregnant and breastfeeding

If it works for you and your family, breastfeed your baby. Maintain a healthy diet while pregnant and breastfeeding, too. Doing so seems to help lower the chances of babies with a high risk for eczema developing it, points out the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

The AAD suggests taking a probiotic while pregnant and eating a diet rich in:

To further help your baby avoid developing eczema, a 2011 article in Canadian Family Physician suggests mothers can avoid eating:

  • tree nuts
  • peanuts
  • cow’s milk
  • eggs
  • fish

If you’re breastfeeding, the timing of weaning may also play an important role in helping your baby avoid developing eczema.

According to a 2017 article in Dermatology Practical & Conceptual, mothers can reduce the odds of their baby developing eczema by weaning them off breastfeeding starting at 4 to 5 months old.

There could be a slightly increased risk of eczema if cow’s milk is introduced to a baby’s diet before they’re 9 months old as well.

As you wean your baby, keep in mind that eczema flare-ups might be triggered by certain foods, such as:

Eczema isn’t caused by any type of allergy. Rather, it’s associated with the development of food and environmental allergies.

Although eczema leads to a higher risk of food allergies, less than 20 percent of children with eczema develop a food allergy, reports Oxford University Hospitals.

A 2013 study suggests the inflammation and breakdown of the skin barrier occurring in eczema could be involved in the triggering of food sensitivity in babies.

The research indicates that infants with an impaired skin barrier — especially if they also have eczema — are more than six times more likely to have a food sensitivity to a variety of foods, including cow’s milk, eggs, and peanuts.

If you’re concerned about your baby developing eczema or any condition, talk to your doctor. They can work with you to put together a diet and plan that’s best for you and baby.