▲ Boys have suffered from severe eczema since the age of 1. Chen Jialiang, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of CUHK, pointed out that intestinal microecological imbalance is an important factor for many immune system diseases, and eczema is a typical example.
Last week, a pair of parents took their five-year-old son to the doctor. The child’s mother couldn’t wait to say: “Professor Chen, look at how severe my child’s eczema is. He has been suffering from this problem since he was one year old. Please help him!” Not a pediatrician nor a dermatologist. She went on to say, “I heard that transplanting some beneficial bacteria can cure this chronic disease. I want to try this new treatment for my child.”
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Looking at the helpless eyes of this mother, I can imagine that the pain she has suffered over the years is no less than that of a child. But I can’t recommend unproven treatments to patients, I can only share known medical data, hoping to help them make appropriate choices for their children.
Eczema is actually a kind of skin inflammation, and the activity of this type of inflammation is affected by immune cells. The gut microbiome is the largest immune organ in the human body. Modern medicine has found that intestinal microecological imbalance is an important factor in many immune system diseases, and eczema is a typical example.
Recent studies have pointed out that people with eczema, regardless of children or adults, have three microecological problems, namely reduced diversity of bacterial species, lack of some beneficial bacteria that can reduce the immune response, and excessive bad bacteria that stimulate inflammation.
What is the cause of the above micro-ecological imbalance? The baby’s gut microbes are acquired from the mother’s delivery process, so pregnant women’s healthy living and eating habits, as well as choosing natural childbirth, are especially important for the baby’s growth. In addition, children should avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics, foods high in sugar or emulsifiers to maintain the balance and healthy development of intestinal bacteria.
Although animal studies have shown that intestinal microbiome transplantation can greatly improve eczema, we still need clinical studies to determine the efficacy and safety of this method.
Can taking probiotics help? I believe it can be used as a preventive and adjuvant treatment, but it also needs to be supported by clinical data to help patients choose the right formula. As the use of metagenomics to analyze the gut microbiome becomes more and more common, we hope that more precise medicine will be used in the near future to provide more appropriate treatment for serious patients.
The full text was published in Chen Jialiang’s “Dean’s Doctor’s Weekly Diary“, the title was drawn up by TOPick editors.
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Author : Chan Ka Leung Dean, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK
column name: Health Expert Column