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Probiotics Relieve Eczema in Preschool Children


Preschool children who were given supplements of probiotics for two months experienced significant relief from moderate to severe eczema, according to a study from Ukraine. Also commonly referred to as atopic dermatitis, this allergic skin condition is one of the first signs of allergy early in life.

According to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, eczema is a chronic or recurrent atopic inflammatory skin disease that typically first appears in the first few years of life. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that 10 to 20 percent of infants are affected by this condition.

Eczema is often the first clinical sign that a child has an atopic predisposition, and many children later develop asthma and/or allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Although the terms “eczema” and “atopic dermatitis” are often used interchangeably, atopic dermatitis is one type of eczema and the most common.

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The study results were presented at the New York Academy of Sciences symposium entitled Probiotics: From Bench to Market. Ninety preschool children ages one to three years who had moderate to severe eczema were enrolled in the study and were given either a mixture of Lactococcus acidophilus DDS-1 and Bifidobacterium lactis UABLA-12 twice daily or a placebo for two months.

At eight weeks, the children who were taking the probiotics showed a decrease in SCORAD indexes (a scoring system for eczema) of 34 percent compared with 19 percent in the placebo group.

In another study published in Allergy in 2009, researchers found that daily supplements of a multi-bacterial strain food (two strains of Bifidobacterium and one of Lactococcus) may reduce the risk of eczema by 58 percent during a child’s first two years of life, with the probiotics becoming established during the first three months of life. Beyond age three, however, the researchers did not observe any difference in the incidence or severity of eczema between the treatment and placebo groups.

The latest study of the use of probiotics in relieving eczema in children shows that the beneficial bacteria provide significant relief. While these results support previous study findings in children, the authors noted that more investigation is needed to determine whether probiotics may benefit adults who have eczema as well.

American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology
American Academy of Dermatology
Niers L et al. Allergy 2009 Sep; 64(9): 1349-58
Probiotics: From Bench to Market