Arch Dis Child 89:309-314 doi:10.1136/adc.2002.020065
  • Community child health, public health, and epidemiology

Eczema and early solid feeding in preterm infants

  1. J Morgan1,
  2. P Williams2,
  3. F Norris1,
  4. C M Williams1,
  5. M Larkin1,
  6. S Hampton1
  1. 1School of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK
  2. 2Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 7XH, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J Morgan
    School of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK;
  • Accepted 3 June 2003


Aims: To establish whether development of eczema is influenced by feeding practices in preterm infants, while taking account of confounding factors.

Methods: Data were assembled from 257 infants born prematurely and studied to 12 months post-term. Logistic regression analysis was performed to establish the association between feeding practices and eczema, allowing for potential confounding factors including the infants’ gender, parental atopic status, social background, and parental smoking habits.

Results: For the development of eczema (with or without other symptoms) by 12 months post-term, the introduction of four or more solid foods by or before 17 weeks post-term was a significant risk (odds ratio 3.49). Male infants were at significantly higher risk (odds ratio 1.84). In addition, having non-atopic parents who introduced solid foods before 10 weeks post-term or having at least one atopic parent represented a significant risk scenario (odds ratio 2.94).

Conclusions: Early introduction of a diverse range of solid foods may predispose the preterm infant to eczema development by 12 months post-term. Furthermore, non-atopic parents who practice early as opposed to late introduction of solid foods may be exposing preterm infants to a greater risk of eczema by 12 months post-term.