Probiotic treatment may limit eczema in infants

Oral supplementation with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri to the mother during pregnancy and to the infant after birth may help reduce the development of eczema and allergy associated with immunoglobulin E, a key protein involved in the allergic response, according to Dr. Thomas R. Abrahamsson and colleagues of Linkoping University Hospital in Sweden.

To investigate, the researchers enrolled families with a history of allergic disease. Expectant mothers were randomly assigned to receive L reuteri in an oil suspension or a placebo treatment, each day from week 36 until delivery.

Their babies continued with the same formulation from birth until 12 months of age and were followed up for another year. A total of 188 completed the study.

At two years, the incidence of eczema was 36% in the active treatment group and 34% in the placebo group. However, during the second year, only 8% of the L. reuteri group had IgE-associated eczema compared with 20% of the placebo group, a statistically significant difference.

Skin prick test reactivity was also less common in active treatment group than in the placebo group. The difference was statistically significant in infants with mothers with allergies (14% versus 31%). However, there was no effect on wheeze or other potentially allergic diseases.

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology


First Published in August 2007

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