Postnatal, pregnancy, skin barrier, trans epidermal water loss
It is unknown whether skins barrier function changes in pregnancy. Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) refers to the total amount of water loss through the skin and TEWL can be measured non-invasively as an index of skin barrier function. We measured TEWL during and after pregnancy to evaluate pregnancy-related skin barrier function.
Methods This was a prospective, longitudinal cohort study of 52 low-risk, first-time pregnant women nested within the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints (SCOPE) Ireland study.
TEWL (gwater/m2/h) was measured three times during pregnancy: 1921 weeks, 2732 weeks and 36 weeks; and three times postnatally: 24 days, 2 months and 6 months post-delivery. Data were analysed using SPSS 18.0 and P > 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
A rise in TEWL was seen between each visit with the highest readings, exceeding the normal range of 020 gwater/m2/h, recorded at two months post-delivery. Forty women attended at two months post-delivery of whom 22 women had an average reading between 0 and 20 gwater/m2/h; 10 women had an average reading between 21 and 40 gwater/m2/h and 8 women had an average reading between 41 and 75 gwater/m2/h. Readings had returned to an average of 020 gwater/m2/h at six months postnatally.
TEWL increases slightly in pregnancy and the postnatal period. The clinical significance of this is unclear and requires further investigation.