Pre/Neonatal Probiotics and the Avoidance of Eczema and Allergies

Yet another article[i] was just published showing that dealing with inflammation issues while  a baby is still in the womb can make a huge difference on the risk of atopic (allergic) illnesses.

In this case, researchers in New Zealand gave 474 pregnant (starting at 35 weeks) moms the probiotic Lactobacillus Rhamnosus (boy, I’ve been writing a lot about that lately!) and then their newborns, up until the age of 2 years.  This cut the children’s rates of developing eczema in half!  (They followed the children through age 11.)  The probiotic also afforded some protection against the development of asthma, hay fever and allergies. This was actually sort of a replication study:  in a previous study, the scientists showed that the probiotic significantly lowered eczema rates in these children through the age of 6.

The study design:  the moms and then their babies were broken up into 3 groups.  One received the L.rhamnosus (6 billion units), one received the probiotic, Bifidobacterium lactis (9 billion units), and the third got the placebo.  The L.rhamnosus group had a 50% reduction in eczema compared to both other groups.  Like the placebo, the B.lactis had no effect.  (By the way, the moms also breast fed their babies.  And you know, from my post last week, that the prebiotics found in breast milk are crucially important in helping these good bacteria to colonize.)

In reading an article on Medical Express which covered this research, I was shocked to learn, that 30% of children under the age of 2 in New Zealand suffer with eczema.[ii]  Holy cow.  I was curious if it was equally prevalent elsewhere and found that yes, it’s insanely common.  10% of the United States populace suffers from it.[iii]  Rates are similar in other industrialized countries. According to AllergyUK, for example, 15-30% of children in the country suffer from eczema, dropping off to about 10% again by the time they reach adulthood.[iv]

Once again, I find myself concluding a post saying, wow – if I had known all this 25 years ago, I would have done things very differently during my 2 pregnancies.


[i] Wickens, K, et al. Effects of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 in early life on the cumulative prevalence of allergic disease to 11 years, Pediatric Allergy and Immunology (2018). DOI: 10.1111/pai.12982




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