Irish study on kids eczema

  • 26 Jan 2015

Data published today from BASELINE (Ireland’s first prospective birth cohort study) in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the world’s highest ranked allergy journal.

Eczema is the most common chronic skin condition in children and adults, affecting all aspects of a person’s life, including sleeping, eating, playing, swimming and socializing, and is also associated with altered mental health in adults. Medical care of eczema is estimated to cost up to $3.4 billion dollars per annum in the United States.

10% of Irish people carry a mutation in the gene most commonly associated with eczema, FLG, which codes the expression of a protein called filaggrin. Low filaggrin expression in the skin is the hallmark of eczema, and causes defects in skin barrier function, making eczema more severe and skin infections and allergies more common.

The BASELINE Allergy study group led by Professor Jonathan Hourihane and Research Fellow Dr Maeve Kelleher (both UCC) and Professor Alan Irvine (TCD) measured water evaporation in the skin of 1903 newborn babies in Cork University Hospital, and followed them up until 12 months of age. Infants who had a high value for this transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and a combination of a filaggrin mutation and allergic parents were seven times more likely to have eczema at 12 months, despite having no visible skin barrier defect or eczema at the time of measurement before they left the maternity hospital.

Professor Hourihane says: “This is the largest set of neonatal skin barrier assessments ever performed, performed just after birth, several weeks earlier than any similar and smaller studies. This association of a neonatal skin barrier defect, present in some but not all children, offers hope that an intervention in this time period could prevent eczema developing in these highest-risk children targeted for a simple intervention with moisturisers to protect their skin barrier. It was also fascinating to find that low TEWL readings after birth appeared to be protective for eczema at 12 months, so there might be a double-edged benefit for using this test more routinely.  Prevention of eczema may also prevent the development of asthma and food allergy, which are strongly associated with eczema because the allergens get through the broken skin and cause the development of allergies. This may add to the growing strategies to prevent these common and occasionally serious and fatal illnesses such as asthma and food allergy. More trials will be needed on the basis of this unique finding in Irish children.”


Egg Free Waffles


A yummy treat for weekend brekkie or brunch!



280g (10 oz) plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

2 tsp sugar

450 mls milk

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp melted butter



In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and sugar.

Add in the remaining ingredients – milk, vegetable oil, water, vanilla and melted butter.

Whisk together until batter is mixed, it will be slightly lumpy.

Spray waffle maker with non-stick spray. Pour on enough batter and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes depending on your waffle maker instructions.

Serve warm and sprinkle with icing sugar (or any other topping you wish).

Mmm…perfect for a weekend treat!

Scrummy Festive Shortbread

Scrummy shortbread

Looking for a really quick & easy recipe and to spend some fun time bonding with the kids?
You can’t go wrong with this simple shortbread recipe!


125g (4oz) butter
55g (2oz) caster sugar, plus extra to finish
180g (6oz plain flour)
Baking tray
Cookie cutters


  1. Preheat oven to 190C (375F) / Gas 5.
  2. Beat the butter and the sugar together until smooth.
  3. Stir in the flour to get a smooth paste. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the paste is 1cm/½ inch thick.
  4. Cut into shapes and place onto a baking tray. Sprinkle with caster sugar and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

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Crumbly Coconut Squares


Crumbly coconut squares

These are very popular in our house. Be warned, they are really tasty! They are packed with oats so they provide good slow-release energy for kids and adults alike.


350g (12oz) butter
2 generous tbsp. golden syrup
175g (6oz) soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g (3oz) plain flour
375g (13oz) rolled oats
125g (4.5oz) desiccated coconut
38cm x 25cm (15’ x 10’) Swiss roll tin


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), gas mark 4.
  2. Place the butter, golden syrup, sugar and vanilla extract into a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer and stir, allowing the butter to melt and form a smooth sauce. Remove from the heat and add the flour, oats and coconut. Stir to mix and pour into the Swiss roll tin, spreading evenly into each corner and smoothing the surface of the oats with the back of the spoon.
  3. Bake in the middle of the oven (too close to the top will cause them to burn) for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.
  4. Once cool, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Blissful Banana Bread

Banana bread

For all those hungry little monkeys out there who love their bananas!
Another egg-free recipe for you to try. In our house, our daughter’s job is mashing the bananas (so you might end up with less than you started with!).

100g (3 ½ oz) softened butter, plus a little extra for greasing
140g (5oz) caster sugar
225g (8oz) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 very ripe bananas
50 ml milk
2lb loaf tin


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F)/170C fan/gas mark 4.
  2. Grease the loaf tin with some butter. Line the base with baking parchment and grease this too.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar, then slowly mix in the flour and baking powder. Peel, then mash the bananas. Now mix everything together adding in the milk last (depending on the size of your bananas you may not need as much milk if the mixture is wet enough).
  4. Pour your mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow the banana bread to cool on a wire rack before removing from the loaf tin.
  5. Wrap tightly in cling film and store in airtight container. You may also freeze for use at a later date (defrost and warm through before serving). Deelicious….!
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