Moms can reduce risk of eczema in their babies by taking probiotics

Thursday, July 29, 2010 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: eczema, probiotics, health news

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(NaturalNews) About 20 percent of babies and toddlers have the condition known as eczema which causes red, swollen and intensely itchy skin. It usually develops on the forehead, cheeks, and scalp, but it can spread to the arms, legs, chest and other parts of the body. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 65 percent of eczema cases develop in the first year of life and 90 percent develop symptoms before the age of five.

While many babies with eczema get better before they are two, others have cases of eczema that persist into adulthood. Evidence has accumulated over the past decade that this common skin problem is connected to something going on in the gut -- and that probiotics, beneficial microorganisms similar to the "friendly" bacteria found naturally in the body's digestive system, can help.

For example, a review of 21 studies, published last year in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, concluded probiotics were most useful in preventing atopic dermatitis, the most common type of eczema, from developing in the first place. And a groundbreaking new study, just published in the British Journal of Dermatology, found that when moms drank a probiotic supplement during their pregnancy and after their babies were born, the rate of eczema in their offspring was slashed by about half.
This research, conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), is especially convincing because it was a randomized, double-blind study comparing mothers who drank one glass of probiotic milk daily to women who drank milk containing a placebo. The research subjects drank the probiotic or placebo-laced milk beginning at week 36 in their pregnancy and continued consuming the drinks for three months after giving birth. The results were dramatic: the women who received the probiotic drink reduced the incidence of eczema by 40 percent in their offspring.

"The taste of both products was similar, and the milk was delivered in unmarked milk cartons. This means that neither the participants in the study nor the researchers knew who had received probiotic milk or placebo milk," NTNU scientist Torbjorn Oien said in a statement to the press. "We can therefore say with great certainty that it was the probiotic bacteria alone that caused the difference in the incidence of eczema between the two groups."

In fact, although earlier studies have provided evidence that ingestion of some probiotics by children may prevent eczema, this is the first study to show that probiotics given to mothers during pregnancy and breast-feeding prevents eczema. As NaturalNews has previously reported, probiotics in dietary supplements or in food such as yogurt, have also been found to be useful and safe in treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea children (

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