Methods: Data of 116 infants collected during our previous randomized controlled study were analyzed. Skin barrier function was measured through transepidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum hydration (SCH), and pH. Study participants were divided into 2 groups based on the results of Cox regression analyses of skin measurement values and cumulative AD incidence by 32 weeks of age. A Kaplan–Meier analysis and log–rank test were used to analyze skin barrier function and cumulative AD incidence. Allergic sensitization based on IgE levels to egg white and ovomucoid at 32 weeks of age was assessed by a Chi–squared test.
Results: TEWL (with an optimal cut-off level of 6.5 g/m2/h) measured on the forehead within the first week of life showed a lower p-value than TEWL measured on the lower leg, SCH, and pH measurements. We found a significant difference in cumulative AD incidence between the high and low TEWL groups (p <0.05). Moreover, the high TEWL group exhibited a higher (but not statistically significant) rate of sensitization to ovomucoid (p = 0.07).
Conclusions: TEWL measured on the forehead during the first week of life is associated with AD development.