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MSAF Acts as Protective Factor for Atopic Dermatitis

Fetal exposure to meconium stained amniotic fluid (MSAF) may be an independent protective factor for dermatitis and skin rash related hospitalizations in the offspring throughout childhood and adolescence, a new study found. Single deliveries occurring between 1991-2014 at a single medical center were divided into 2 study groups based on presence or lack of MSAF during pregnancy. Researchers found:

  • A lower rate of the total dermatitis or skin eruption related hospitalization was documented in the MSAF group as compared to the unexposed group.
  • The survival curve showed lower cumulative hospitalization rate in the MSAF exposed group.
  • Cox analysis demonstrated MSAF exposure to be an independent protective factor for dermatitis and skin rash related hospitalizations during childhood.


Krieger Y, et al. Meconium stained amniotic fluid as a protective factor against childhood dermatitis and skin rash related hospitalization in the offspring – a population-based cohort analysis. [Published online ahead of print August 16, 2019]. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. doi: 10.1111/jdv.15881.


The relationship between skin and gut microbiomes and AD has been an important area of recent research. This unique article looked at newborns with and without meconium stained amniotic fluid and followed them into adolescence to identify AD risk. Those born with meconium staining were significantly less likely to develop AD, suggesting some protective effect of the meconium. Also, even when controlling for confounders, hospitalization for skin-related conditions was less frequent in this group. More study will be needed to determine if there is a cause-and-effect relationship, or if this is just coincidental. — Joseph Fowler, Jr., MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology, University of Louisville, KY